Rebecca Van Noord
When we experience God’s mercy, it shows. Our instincts change and our priorities shift from gratifying our own ego to making much of God. We stop fearing what others think of us and find our identity grounded in Christ. It’s a transformation that shows God is working in our lives. Paul recognized the transformative power of the gospel, and it drove his ministry. This is evidenced in his second letter to the Corinthian church:
“Just as we have been shown mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced shameful hidden things, not behaving with craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but with the open proclamation of the truth commending ourselves to every person’s conscience before God” (2 Cor 4:1–2).
Paul wasn’t manipulating or distorting the good news for his own gain, as some were doing in the community. He preached the good news to all people with openness and sincerity. He allowed the gospel to convict people as it should, refusing to distort it to make people comfortable. He proclaimed “Christ Jesus as Lord” and he and his disciples as “slaves for the sake of Jesus” to those in Corinth (2 Cor 4:5). Bound to Christ, they lived as free slaves for His cause. They were solely dedicated to Jesus because they wanted to be, and because of the salvation He had brought them.
Psalm 36 provides an illustration of Paul’s approach, highlighting the qualities of those who don’t fear God. This person is characterized by “rebellion in the midst of his heart” (Psa 36:1). He is self-absorbed and rejects his need: “he flatters himself in his eyes, hating to detect his iniquity” (Psa 36:2). He is deceitful (Psa 36:3).
The psalmist doesn’t contrast this picture with one of the righteous man. Instead, he honors Yahweh—His loyal love, faithfulness, righteousness, and judgments (Psa 36:5–6). The psalmist says, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psa 36:9). Paul echoes “For God … is the one who has shined in our hearts for the enlightenment of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). God’s grace puts everything in perspective. Both passages help us assess with wisdom the message and posture of those who teach. They also challenge us to take a look at our own standing before God.
Take an honest look at what motivates you. Are you transformed by the good news? Is it apparent to others around you?
This article was originally published in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.