1 Corinthians 15:10 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.
The apostle Paul realized grace was a partner with him and a co-laborer with him. Grace caused him to labor more abundantly, to excel, or to do more than most. The word for labor in the Greek (kopiao) doesn’t mean a casual or a minimal labor but rather to work hard to the point of fatigue or exhaustion; to toil; to bestow labor; to be wearied. It certainly does not suggest an effortless life or effortless labor. Everything Paul did was enabled by the grace given. He described his labor or effort as more than all of the Church at Corinth. He out worked them all and labored more than most. He went on to say that the grace that was with him was grace that enabled him to preach.
1 Corinthians 15:10, 11 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. 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we PREACH, and so ye believed.
To the Church at Ephesus he repeats the enablement of the grace of God to help him preach. Ephesians 3:7-8 says, “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
We need to realize:
We are what we are by the grace of God, and we will do what we are called to do by the same grace. The grace given Paul was not in vain. It would be in vain to have been given the grace to do something and never do it. As stewards of the grace of God, we have been entrusted with grace and it is not to be in vain. God’s grace can be in vain or it can be frustrated (Galatians 2:21). You can be trying to do what you are doing outside the grace given, enabled by your own effort, sufficiency, and strength.
The only acceptable labor is enabled by grace. That is why the Word is so important. It’s where we gain knowledge of His grace Acts 20:32. That is why prayer is so important. Prayer is not where we earn God’s grace, but where we learn of God’s grace, in communion with Him Hebrews 4:16. God wants nothing empowered by us. This takes real humility to realize and maintain this. At the same time, grace isn’t given us to do nothing, or for sitting, and spectating. Grace will make a laborer out of you. Are you laboring or lounging?