1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
also plead with you
Paul appealed to the Corinthians not to undervalue God’s grace in reconciling them. This was especially true for those who minimized God’s resources. This “plea” was to Christians, not pagans.
not to receive the grace of God in vain.
Chapter 5 demonstrates God’s grace by Christ’s payment for sin resulting in reconciliation with God. The Corinthian church did not receive that grace in a way whereby they appreciated it adequately.
Some of the Corinthians trivialized the doctrine of God’s grace in reconciling them. By doing this, they received God’s grace “in vain.” Certain problematic leaders in Corinth undermined the idea that God gave His resources freely. Second Corinthians 5:14-19 expresses that grace. Christ’s death freed people so that they might have a relationship with God.
A truncated gospel is a “vain” gospel (2 Co 11:2-3). The word “vain” means empty, without content, useless (Ga 2:2; Php 2:16; 1 Th 3:5). It is easy for false teachers to mislead people. Superficial belief produces shallow Christians who are susceptible to fakers that may come along.
The idea in this verse has nothing to do with losing one’s salvation. The words “to receive” carry the idea of the present tense (an aorist infinitive after verbs of command or exhortation). The context for this statement is 2 Corinthians 5:21, where the believer became the righteousness of God in Christ. Christians are not to let that incredible privilege go in vain (Ga 2:21). Those who seek justification by the Law fall from the principle of grace (Ga 5:4; Ro 6:14). The idea is that it is possible to fall—not from salvation but from God’s provisions given by grace.
To minimize God’s grace is to reject the fundamental way He does ministry.
There will always be those who minimize God’s grace in the church. All this was true in the church at Corinth, so it will be true today. Legalism has always stuck its ugly head in the church throughout church history. These people always want to add something to God’s grace. In doing so, they detract from what God has done.
Those who do not care about their work as ambassadors receive the grace of God in vain. This is to deny the reason God put Christians on this planet. God awaits those who will deliver the message of reconciliation through Christ’s death. Those who do not do what God has put them here for fail in His mission for them. To function as a religious spectator is a self-oriented life. The most important priority in our lives is to do what God placed us on earth to do.
Most people have cell phones today. Most have never examined the inside of their phone to see how it functions. However, if one of the smallest parts were missing, then it would be of little use. There are people today who think that they have no talents, gifts, intelligence, or any other qualities. God, however, does not use us based on how educated we may be; His concern is that we do what He put us here to do. None of us can conclude that we are insignificant or that our life counts for nothing.
Being co-workers in the cause of Christ is a central idea in Scripture (1 Co 3:9; 12:6, 11; 15:10; Eph 1:19; 3:7; Co 1:29). God has different strokes for different folks. In one case, one person plants, another waters, and another causes growth (1 Co 3:6-7). It is a wonderful pleasure to be a co-worker with God.