But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Cor. 15: 10)
In the scripture verse above Paul is not talking about grace in the sense of God’s saving grace. Rather he is talking about grace for service or ministry. It is impossible to do the work of God without this grace. It is quite possible for one to be involved in church activities every day of the week, but it is important to realize that we cannot effectively do the work of ministry except by the grace of God. And when we allow it, the grace of God in each one of us can do exploits in ministry.
The early church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles understood the working of the grace of God in their midst, and this empowered them. ‘With great power they (the apostles) continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all’ (Acts 4: 33). It was in this church where ‘Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6: 8). Then word got to the Jerusalem, the headquarters of the church then, of what was happening in Antioch and so they sent Barnabas to go and see what the exploits were about. And it says in Acts 11: 23 that ‘when he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. The exploits of grace were visible for him to see, in that a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
This same grace was in the apostle Paul when he said in 1 Cor 3: 10 ‘By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it…’. He did not beat his chest and say ‘don’t you know I laid this foundation? Give credit where it’s due!’. No, he acknowledged that what he had done he had accomplished by the grace of God. And as he said in the main verse above, ‘…I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.’ He did not ask that credit be given him, rather he gave credit to the grace of God that was working in him.
Now the good news is, this grace is with you today! Ephesians 4: 7 says ‘But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it’. And ‘we have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us’. (Romans 12: 6). You need to identify what grace you have received from God and to get active in that ministry. Your ministry gift is not for you, it is for the church. It is to be used to bless and grow the church. And none of us is without any; whether it is soul-winning, prayer, giving, helps, – whatever your ministry, you need to identify it, realize that you have grace to function in it, and cooperate with the grace of God to do exploits in your specific ministry area, for this is our year of exploits of grace – in ministry.