“… last of all He (Jesus) appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” 1 Corinthians 15:8-10a (NIV)
In this passage, Paul calls himself the least of the apostles, not even deserving to be called an apostle. When he writes to Timothy, he calls himself the chief of sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15) In his past, Paul wreaked havoc on the church, breathing out murderous threats! Because of his past, he knew better than anyone what forgiveness meant.
What an encouragement this is to you and me! No matter who we are or what we’ve done, no one is beyond God’s grace! This is the power of grace! Paul used his own life as an example. In 1 Timothy 1:16 he says,
“But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as an example to show everyone how patient He is with even the worst sinners, so that others will realize that they, too, can have everlasting life.”
Have you ever messed up so bad that you felt you were beyond repair? So bad that you felt like God wouldn’t even forgive you? Don’t believe it! As long as you’re occupying space and taking in oxygen, God’s grace is greater than your sin! My favorite part of our key passage today is when Paul declares,
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.”
The word effect means “to cause to change.” Jesus changed Paul’s life! He can change yours! He didn’t appear to Paul to condemn or berate him for all the bad things he had done and people he had hurt. Instead, Jesus appeared to him, offering grace! He offers that same grace to you today, even to those who have hurt you. That’s what makes grace so amazing! And the resurrection makes grace so powerful! Never write off anyone! If He can transform the likes of Paul, there’s hope for anyone!