2 Corinthians 6:1
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.
I. IN WHAT SENSE IS A MINISTER "A FELLOW-WORKER WITH GOD"?
1. In the same way that the husbandman, in the fields, works with the elements. Can he do anything without them? And yet, has not God covenanted to send them, to give effect to his labour?
2. In the same way as the mariner works with the wind. "The wind bloweth where it listeth," but as he sits at the helm and holds the canvas in his little boat, he is conscious, "I am working with the wind."
3. As ambassadors. The ambassador has no pretension to be the king, he is only a favoured subject. Nevertheless, so long as he is an ambassador, he carries the king's credentials, dignity, and power.
II. THIS GREAT THOUGHT OF THE FELLOWSHIP WHICH HE HAD IN HIS WORK WITH GOD, ST. PAUL USED TO ENFORCE THE EXHORTATION NOT TO RECEIVE THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN. It was as though he said, in reference to his Master, what his Master said in reference to His Father, "The words that I speak unto you are not mine, but His that sent me." When he added "also," it was because he himself had "not frustrated the grace of God," for, as he said to these Corinthians, "His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain," so that he was the better prepared to urge upon others not to receive it in vain.
III. WHAT IS IT TO RECEIVE GRACE IN VAIN.
1. We must look at this discriminatingly. No word of God, under any circumstances, is ever "vain" (Isaiah 4:10). But every word does not comfort, convince, save. What, then, does it do? It cannot do nothing. Does not it harden, condemn? Is the light not light, when it blinds the eye that is not fitted to receive it? Or is warmth not warmth when it hardens, but does not melt? No; God's word "cannot return void" — it must glorify God either in His mercy or in His justice. Therefore the words must be taken only in relation to man, for that which has not produced holiness and peace to us has evidently been "in vain."
2. There are several ways by which this sin may be committed.
(1) Many "receive the grace of God in vain," in the same sense in which that word is used in the third commandment — in the trifling, irreverent, inconsiderate manner in which they deal with God's truth. Men go to church almost as if they went to any other assembly. The mind is not set to the sacred tone of the services in which they are mingling. The message of mercy is to them just as a pleasant tale, or a mere matter of criticism and of conversation.
(2) But there are serious people who see the dignity and gravity of religion. But "grace" has only reached their understanding; it has not gone down into their hearts. They can define faith, but they cannot use faith.
(3) There are those who have felt the power of Christ's grace in their hearts; but they have lost it. The force of early convictions has passed away. Many an influence of the Holy Spirit is now being quenched in them. Consider what it will be to have once carried such a treasure, and then to have dropped it! — to have known and loved such a Saviour, and then to have denied Him!
(4) There are those of you who have "received the grace of God," but you have never yet known what it is to rest, with a quiet assurance that you are forgiven. Now, when God's "grace" came to you it had this express purpose. If, then, you do not quietly accept His love, and settle down in a happy sense of your pardon, then "grace" is of no effect to you t What use is it, then, to talk of your faith; if you have no confidence?
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.