“ And they were glorifying God because of me”–Galatians 1:23 (NASB)
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The man who made the claim above was Paul.
Typically, when Paul is referenced among believers today his name is preceded by an adjective or adjectival phrase, either spoken aloud or assumed in our minds. For example: the great Apostle Paul; the preeminent theologian Paul; the passionate missionary Paul; the first New Testament Church-planter and evangelist Paul; the inspired author of half of the New Testament Paul.
We understandably associate this most remarkable man with extreme greatness, a unique superiority, and a level of achievement that few have ever shared or will share. It is true enough that the power and grace of God was at work in Paul in most incredible ways!
However, this same remarkable man would strongly caution us about adopting him as some kind of a ‘hero of the faith.’ He reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 that he is, after all, no more than a grace-endowed servant of Christ, one deserving of no credit whatsoever.
Yet, we still (quite naturally!) assume that this man, and others like him whose stories dot the pages of Holy Scripture, was and remains far above us in stature and importance. We assign to Paul a status that is high above the average believer, seeing him as indispensable to the proclamation, defense, and spread of the Gospel to the world.
To be sure, Paul himself would strongly dispute this assumption! In 1 Corinthians 15:10 he states this emphatically: “ But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.”
Whatever there was in this man that might be termed ‘greatness’ was a result of God’s mercy in Christ Jesus alone!
This brings us to his inspired words taken from Galatians 1:23 that are quoted above. I would suggest that it is here that we discover the Apostle’s most impressive ‘achievement’ of all. Ask this man what he is most ‘proud of,’ what he finds the greatest satisfaction in, and he will tell you that his singular delight is in knowing that somehow the trajectory of his life resulted in the glory of God! Because of what divine grace was doing in his life, others were “ glorifying God.”
There is no doubt that none of us will ever author half of the New Testament, plant churches all across the known world, preach with unparalleled efficacy and power, defend the faith with awe-inspiring rhetorical skill, or be remembered as the “ Apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). And yet, we stand on equal ground with Paul as those whose main mission and calling in life is to live in such a way that any who encounter us along life’s path will glorify Him who has redeemed us!
Like the ‘Great Apostle Paul,’ each of us exists for one grand purpose. We are all equally partakers of the same mercy, recipients of the same sovereign and gracious calling to salvation, representatives of the same Lord, sent out to the same world, and filled with the same Holy Spirit! There are no celebrities among us, no upper echelon of super-saints or ‘heroes of the faith’! There are only forgiven and justified sinners who exist in order that the Name above all names might be glorified in their lives!
On this Monday, like every day, our status, calling, rank, and mission are ‘Pauline’ in every way! Our shared purpose is this: That as we carry out our daily duties and engage in our common routines, that our Father might be exalted, and that those who watch us might see something of His glory and grace in us! There is no higher vocation than this one!
May our gracious Father use us today to bring honor, glory, and praise to Himself in the sight of all!
I love you all so very much,
PS: Due to our travel and family vacation plans, the next Monday Encouragement will be delivered on June 21.