And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain— for He says, “At a favorable time I listened to you, and on a day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “a favorable time,” behold, now is “a day of salvation”— giving no reason for taking offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited.

The Christmas season, for many of us, is one of the most magical times of the year. Most of us are probably still finding a place for our new gifts and collecting the stray tissue paper and bows from the festivities. Gifts are a big part of many of our holiday celebrations—from the grand and unexpected to the small and sentimental. While gifts are a great way that we can show our love and appreciation for those close to us, we should be on guard that we don’t receive God’s greatest gift in vain.

Evidently there were those in Corinth who Paul wanted to remind of the same thing. Undoubtedly, God has given us the greatest gift in the grace demonstrated through the sacrifice of His own Son. Yet, sometimes we forget the gravity of such grace. Even as believers, we take for granted the grace that has saved us and sustains us daily. For those who have believed in God’s message of grace, we might continue to operate as if our actions have more power to affect God. To do so means we have received God’s grace in vain—taking it to be insufficient to sustain us. We think we need to add something to His power to save and sanctify. Can you imagine giving someone a gift and them responding, “This is great, but I’ll need to add more to it to make it really worth it.”

No, our response to God’s gift of grace should be wholly different. The truth is, God has helped us when we were altogether helpless. In light of God’s grace, our response is to let that grace do its work in us. His grace doesn’t need to be altered or added to but received in full. It is the gift that none of us deserved, earned, or qualified for in our own flesh. But it is the gift we have been given freely in Christ Jesus.

  • What are some ways you are tempted to receive God’s grace in vain? How do you have trouble receiving it in full—not adding to it anything of your own strength?
  • Looking back at the year, how have you seen the grace of God at work in your own lif­e­–even in the midst of all the chaos and uncertainty?
  • Take some time to consider and give thanks for the grace of God. Recount to God some ways you have seen Him work His grace into your life this year. Repent of the ways you have taken it in vain.