May 04, 2007

Surrounded by Grace

1 Corinthians 4:1-7

What do you have that you did not receive? And ... why do you boast ... ? 1 Corinthians 4:7


There's a story about a woodpecker who was persistently drilling through the bark of a tree one day, when, without warning, lightning struck and shattered the old tree into a thousand little pieces. The woodpecker flew to another tree, and said, still shivering and shaking, "Wow! To think I did it all by myself!"

I thought about that story while reading the impressive resume of a well-known Christian who had passed away. It listed every personal and professional achievement. But something was missing in that impressive obituary: there was no mention of the grace of God that had made it possible to accomplish what she had done.

It's easy to start thinking that we've done it all by ourselves. God gives us physical abilities, and we take the credit for our athletic performances. God gives us a brilliant mind, and we begin to think we are superior to others. God prospers us in our business and our profession, and we begin to think our success is all due to our hard work. God grows our church or ministry, and we give the impression that it's because of our remarkable relational and preaching skills .

Paul warns us to remember that all we are and have is from God. We are surrounded by God's grace, or, as Paul notes in Acts 17:28, "In him we live and move and have our being." Only God deserves the credit!

Father in heaven, please help us to remember that all we are and have and ever will be are because of your grace in our lives. In Jesus' name we thank you. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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