“I laboured… yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
By Ken Blue
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10.
Balance in any area of life is difficult. It seems that we take credit for everything, or we are hesitant to acknowledge any involvement. Perhaps the problem is we fear others will think we are boasting. Paul had a proper perspective and balance when it came to serving Christ. We should learn from him.
We must acknowledge, without Christ we can do nothing of eternal value. However, in this dispensation, God will do little without your cooperation. Read the above verse again, and you will see that Paul was not ashamed to say, “I laboured more abundantly than they all.”
In II Corinthians 11 he says, “ Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.” 2 Corinthians 11:22-33.
In the above, Paul uses the word “I” sixteen times! Notice the words “me” and “my”. Paul is not bragging. However, he is demonstrating that he was everything, and more than what some others claimed for themselves. It is said that D. L. Moody heard a preacher say, “The world is yet to see what God can do through a man wholly surrendered to Christ.” It is reported that Moody said, “By the grace of God, I’ll be that man.” God will do no more in the ministry than the pastor and the people are willing to do.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]God will do no more in the ministry than the pastor and the people are willing to do.[/pullquote]
However, we must never forget to maintain the balance. Paul went on to say, “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Anything accomplished for Christ is by His grace. It is by His power, mercy, love, goodness, provision, leading, compassion, and enabling we are able to do His work.
Allow me to speak foolishly for a moment. I prayed hard about what God wanted me to do prior to going to Bible College. I worked a full time job at night, attended classes each weekday for five years, while pastoring a small church in Iowa. I came to the Seattle and founded the Open Door Baptist Church. I laboured, preached, prayed, won souls, trained men for ministry, loved our people; and I wept and rejoiced with them for 39 years. Today, a great soul winning church stands as a testimony to human effort and God’s grace.
But, let me be clear. It was God who called me, provided my every need, enabled me, gave me souls for my labor, and met my every need. It was by His grace that anything was accomplished! “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it…” Psalms 127:1.
Therefore, “I laboured… yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” What I am trying to say is, Pastor, give it your all. Do and be your best. In most cases the smarter you work, the luckier you will get. Just don’t forget, everything you accomplish will be by His enabling grace!
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.