Therefore I have reason to boast in Christ Jesus regarding what pertains to God. For I would not dare say anything except what Christ has accomplished through me by word and deed. (Romans 15:17-18)
Paul was a man on a mission!
He was a person who seemed to have an endless supply of motivation and talent. He laid out the groundwork for Christianity to spread across the entire Roman Empire. He’s been considered one of the most influential people in history. Yet, when Paul talked about everything he accomplished, he didn’t credit it to his education, hard work, or innovation, but simply Jesus working through him.
In today’s section, Paul was replaying the last twenty years of ministry and thinking about how God had exceeded his expectations, as he got to preach the gospel and plant churches from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum. That’s from southern Palestine, up through Syria, across Turkey, down through Greece, and then up into Albania, without flying coach or any access to the Internet. Mind you this was only one out of his three missionary journeys!
So we see a gospel principle here, the people who do the most for God are those who depend the most on God. When you work from God’s grace you serve out of delight, rather than duty. You live for him motivated by gratitude, rather than guilt. You have a newfound appreciation for your undeserved calling, salvation, favor, and giftings he’s given you. So maybe you need God’s grace to help you shake off that sluggish heart you’ve had for him lately. Maybe you need Christ to help restore your heart and attitude toward your spouse or children. You need God’s grace to help you to be intentional with these individuals. Paul credited every good work in his life to Jesus working through him. So that’s where the secret to his ministry must have been.