May 24, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – 2 Timothy 1:9 (NRSV)
[God] saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
God’s calls us into relationship and into his service, not because of anything we do, but because of his grace. This truth keeps us from feeling undue pride over being called. It also keeps us from falling into shameful fear when we fail to live according to our calling. God’s grace, given through Jesus Christ, claims us and calls us. In this we can be reassured. In this we can rejoice.
Today’s devotion is part of the series God’s Transformational Calling.
Several years ago, when I was working at Laity Lodge, we were hosting a meeting in which Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the keynote speaker. We felt honored and excited that he was coming to address our gathering. Prior to his speech, there was to be a lunch with Archbishop Tutu, an intimate meal with only a few invited guests. I hoped that I might be one of those at the lunch, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I was really at the mercy of the event organizers.
Well, I’m delighted to say they did show me some mercy, inviting me to lunch with Archbishop Tutu and actually seating me right across from him. It was one of the great honors of my life to have lunch with a man for whom I have such high regard. (And it was fascinating to learn that he is not only a man of great wisdom, but also someone with a delightful sense of humor and a contagious laugh.)
The call of God is a bit like my invitation to lunch with Desmond Tutu in that it’s not something we can arrange or earn. As Paul writes to Timothy, “[God] saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus . . . .” (1:9). When it comes to your calling, God wasn’t sitting up on his heavenly throne, looking down to see if your life was good enough to be worthy of his calling. No, on the contrary, God calls us not on the basis of anything we do, but on the basis of his grace.
God’s grace inspires the calling all Christians receive when we come into relationship with God through Christ (see Galatians 1:6). God’s grace also inspires the particular calling of particular people to a particular work. Thus, in Galatians 1:15-16, Paul writes that God “called [him] through his grace,” both to become a follower God’s Son and to “proclaim him among the Gentiles.” The calling of God is always an expression of God’s grace, God’s undeserved favor given freely to us.
Why does it matter that we are called by God according to his grace? Well, for one thing it keeps us from any pride we might have to be one of God’s called people. We did nothing to earn our calling, as if it were some prize for good behavior.
For many Christians, pride is not a major concern. Shame and fear can dominate our hearts. We know how much we fall short of God’s standards, how often we fail to love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves. We might even fear that God will reject us. But, because our calling rests on God’s grace and not our works, then we need not be afraid. Yes, we should still seek to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1). But we should not worry that God will rescind our calling if we don’t measure up. God has chosen us according to his grace, and his grace toward us is rich beyond measure (Ephesians 2:7).
When you think of God’s grace, what comes to mind? What do you think? What do you feel?
When have you experienced God’s grace in a particularly powerful way?
Why do you think it can be hard for Christians to fully accept and live in God’s grace?
Talk with a wise friend or with your small group about your experiences of grace. See what you learn about God’s grace from listening to the stories of others.
Gracious God, indeed, you are gracious . . . filled with grace, overflowing with grace. All praise be to you for your utter graciousness.
Lord, you have called me, not because of anything I have done to earn it, but because of your grace. Thank you! Thank you for desiring my company, my service, my worship.
Help me, Lord, to live by grace. Keep me from being puffed up by my accomplishments. Guard my heart from shame that would drag me away from you.
As I receive your gracious calling, may I seek to live out this calling each day. By your grace, help me to walk worthy of the calling you have given me. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Understanding Life in Christ (Galatians 1:6–4:31)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.