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Easter Monday, April 6, 2015

Today’s Reading | 1 Corinthians 15:1–11

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. (NRSV)

Truly grasping the grace of God is something I struggle with. I don’t feel worthy, but I am so grateful for his grace because I know that I often fall short of his expectations. If his was truly a merit system, I’d be in trouble. For me, and I suspect many others, it is easier to believe that hard work will likely bring positive results, rewards in life and with God. I am so much more comfortable with actions that demonstrate my beliefs and commitment to my faith.

Recently, I did a personality test that described me as an organizer who likes things done—and done properly. The results said that I am action-oriented, have a desire to jump in and do, prefer clarity—and, if there is none, I will create it. My personality type is stressed by lack of control. Helpfully, I’m told that my areas of growth are to slow down and be patient and to listen more and be open.

I wonder if Paul was facing my same conflict; maybe he was also an organized doer who preferred clarity. He says that he was the least of the apostles and that he had some deficiencies (he persecuted the church of God). He mentioned how he worked harder than the all the others but ultimately he knew that he was who he was by the grace of God.

Lord, help me to find the balance between the desire to take action and the whole-hearted believing in your grace. Remind me to be gracious in accepting the gifts you’ve given me regardless of my worthiness and to set aside my personality and ego as I endeavor to carry and embody your message to the world. Amen.

Written by Kathryn Burkhardt, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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