August 12 - Ephesians 3:7-13

Monday, August 12, 2013

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

We hold Paul in pretty high esteem. We like heroes and one of our favorite things to do with our heroes is to forget their humanity. The heroes of the Old Testament were all terribly flawed, but we don’t talk about those flaws very often; we like to think of them in their latter days, when they followed God closely.

Solomon kind of messes things up for us there. He was a hero in the early days of his reign as Israel’s king and then loses control of his needs and desires and becomes less heroic.  But, we don’t like to talk about that.

King David was a wonderful young king and a fabulous elder statesman.  We don’t like to talk about the days when he desired a woman so much that he was willing to sacrifice his humanity and his kingdom. We’re fine with talking about his redemption, but we don’t want spend too much time thinking about the fact that he was quite human.

We find ourselves falling into the same trap over and over yet today. Our spiritual heroes better not ever show their humanity or we do our very best to destroy them. We don’t want to think about that. We desperately want them to remain aboveboard all the time, because when they sink down to our worst desires and our basest needs, we are not only disgusted with them, but with ourselves.

Paul never wanted his readers to think more of him than who he was. He truly accepted that he was the least of God’s people. His prior sins and whatever present thorn in his side were always right there in front of him.  He never forgot that he had persecuted Christians and stood by while they were stoned to death. He didn't allow himself to be elevated to heroic status.

Paul recognized that everything that happened through him was because of the grace of God. He never forgot that God saved him out of a hideous life and granted him the boundless riches of Christ in order to tell the world the Good News.

His example is one that is difficult to follow.  We like our heroes and our celebrities. We honor heroic behavior and count on people living holy and pure lives without exception. Paul knew better about himself and counted on God to be his grace and his foundation.

Everything he did was for the glory of God.