The word of the day for Sunday, October 10 is “vain.” In today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 6:1-10, Paul begs his congregation at Corinth, “not to receive the grace of God in vain” (vs. 1). What does it mean to receive the favor of God through the Gospel in vain? In Greek, the word for “vain” refers to what is hollow and without contents (Strong’s #2756.137). It calls to mind the image of a bottle that is empty or a house that is vacant. To receive the Gospel in vain is like receiving a present and not opening it or like getting a gift card and never using it. It is hearing the Gospel with our ears but not with our hearts. Or it is setting aside the grace of God so that it produces no results in our lives.
How Our Receiving of God’s Grace May Be in Vain
How does it happen that for us our reception of God’s grace is in “vain”? The answer lies in Paul’s urgent announcement: “Now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (vs. 2). The offer of God’s favor is now. The time of salvation is this very moment. God’s mercy is everlasting, but the opportunity to accept it is always in the present. The Almighty God will not be put off (Psalm 95: 8-11 & Hebrews 3:7-11). We can say, “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.” But when tomorrow never comes then what use is the message of our redemption in Christ.
Things to Tend to At Once
We must tend to certain things at once. The hearing of the Gospel, the call to repentance, the summons to discipleship, the yearning for deeper devotion, the prayer for mercy, and the need of our neighbor: these cannot wait. If we do not do act on them, the stirring of the Spirit within us will eventually cease, and the grace of God will be in vain.
Recall the procrastination of the Roman Governor Marcus Antonius Felix recorded in Acts 24:22-27. After Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem, he appeared before this Roman magistrate. The apostle took the opportunity to proclaim to the judge the “faith in Christ” (vs. 24:24). But when Felix heard about “righteousness, self-control, and judgment,” he dismissed Paul. He said, “Go away now, when I have a convenient time, I will call you (vs. 24:25). That opportune time never came. The Governor kept the Apostle in prison for two years, and then the emperor sent another governor to preside in Felix’s place (vs. 27). Each of us should ask, what call of the Lord am I putting off for a more suitable day.