1 Corinthians 15:10 (The Message) 10-11 But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste.
I hate wasting things, especially time and money! I will use cologne to the last drop even if I’m not enamored with the scent. Nothing is free in life and money does not come to me easily. So I’m still using my lawnmower even though it’s not cutting well. So I’ll wax my car one more time to help make the color last a bit longer. When someone gives me a gift, I try to take good care of it even if it means putting it away in the closet because it’s not really my thing. “Don’t be wasteful,” droned my parents as I grew up. That phrase has seriously landed on my memory glands.
I also think of that phrase we use as we shake our heads in pity, “Such a waste!” It is used for people who had so much potential and ability only to let it remain undeveloped. It is also used for someone who got injured somehow and a promising career cut short. “Man, such a waste!” I love the way Eugene Peterson translates Paul familiar words, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” Eugene’s version shows us how amazingly generous and gracious God was to Paul and Paul’s life-response was, “I’m not about to let God’s grace go to waste.”
I’ve been thinking about the challenging question, “How do you waste God’s grace?” Are you wasting God’s grace? I think about a famous guy named Bob Dylan. That guy had a surprising conversion and made three awesome inspiring albums that spoke of his love for “God’s Grace.” I particularly liked “Slow Train Comin” and it is still a classic. We were all surprised when Dylan stopped following Christ. For whatever reason, he decided to leave it all behind. Not just thinking about his talent and influence, but also his future when I say, “Such a waste.”
When Paul spoke these powerful words about not wasting God’s grace, he first reminds the Corinthian believers of his past, where he had come from. In the verse just before he reminds them of how he was so blinded by hate that he tried to destroy Christianity singlehandedly. Not many of us have the words, “violent, murder, hatred…” etched in blood on our resume. Paul did. Now, because of the terrible things that he’d done years earlier, Paul would conclude, like you and I, that he was not even worthy to be part of the group that could say, “I saw Jesus after his resurrection!” Paul says, “C’mon now, me an apostle? It does not make any sense!”
Paul, of all people, was the most surprised by how much grace God poured down all over him. In fact he goes further to say something to the effect that he’s the last one in the world who deserved grace. He’s blown away by it all. Scandalous! But then he says those well loved words, “But by the Grace of God, I am what I am.” Pretty awesome. Grace made all the difference in him and allowed him to be what and who he was back then and that Grace just kept him moving powerfully forward in strength and joy. For that reason Paul became an example of a life that did not waste the grace of God. He lived every moment in thanks, joy, and usefulness for the love of God. Nothing wasted.
Grace is not free. It cost God a son. It’s scandalous. And the scandalous grace of God can make all the difference in your life and mine. It is the most undeserved and costly gift we’ll ever receive. Grace changes everything. Can you say that today? Because of God’s scandalous grace you are not just heading to the gym to prolong your existence. You are not just making money to spend it on…you. You are using your life for a higher purpose. You are living joyfully knowing who you are and moving forward under the grace-giving hand of God.
Keep doing that and you won’t waste the precious gift of grace that came your way at just the right time.