Gratitude as Motive for Mission

David Bast

Read: Galatians 2:20

. . . the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (v. 20)

Paul never got over the wonder of Christ’s love for him. He had been a persecutor of the church, an enemy of the Lord Jesus, “the worst of sinners” (cf. 1 Tim. 1:15 NIV). Yet the risen Christ revealed himself to Paul, transformed him, and commissioned him for gospel ministry as a missionary to the Gentiles. As a result of his own experience of the Lord’s mercy, Paul felt a never-ending debt of gratitude to share the grace and love of Christ with others (see Rom. 1:15). It continued to motivate his missionary service to his dying day.

John Newton was a latter-day Paul. He too was the worst kind of sinner. Newton captained a slave ship on the African coast. When he wrote his famous hymn about the amazing grace “that saved a wretch like me,” he wasn’t exaggerating. But grace transformed Newton as it had the apostle, and turned him from a slave trader into a servant of the gospel.

Newton labored to the end of his long life in gratitude and love for the one “who loved me and gave himself for me.” And when he died he left this epitaph:

John Newton, Cler[ic], once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.

—David Bast

On this Thanksgiving Day may my gratitude show itself by witnessing to your amazing grace.