October 22, 2019

 

1 Timothy 1:12-17

“I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry— 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only[b] God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Yesterday’s passage of 1 Timothy 1 in our Bible-In-A-Year reading has had me really stirring and thinking about my own story. In fact in this specific translation of the Bible the section heading says “Paul’s Testimony”. I’ve been thinking about my testimony. I’ve found myself deeply reflecting on who I was as a believer and who I am now having put my faith in Jesus Christ and seeking to follow after Him. I find myself thinking about sin and about the ways in which I still sometimes choose it over the righteousness and pursuit of God. As I read this passage I can so greatly identify with Pauls self described identity as “the worst of them…(regarding to sinners in v. 15)”. As I have reflected through this passage I think it has been incredibly healthy and good for my soul. Paul offers great encouragement in this section that I feel is helpful for all of us. Let me briefly break down some of the key parts that have really worked on my heart:

In verse 13 Paul says, “even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man.” If you recall in Philippians 3 Paul gives his personal pedigree and proves how, in that culture, he was a first class citizen. He possessed the best national heritage, he was born to a great family. He grew up in the best house, probably had the best clothes, went to the best schools. As an adult he had the best job, but not only that, he was the best at his job. Paul had it all. He then says that when compared to having a close and intimate relationship with Jesus, those things are like dung. They don’t matter at all. Look at how he describes himself here though: Pauls self description here is not one of confidence or esteem as in Philippians, it’s much lower than that. He calls himself a “blasphemer, a persecutor and an arrogant man…acting out of ignorance and unbelief.”

When I think about my life before Christ, I think Paul’s words register with me pretty well. I grew up in a Christian home. My mom was a believer, my grandmother was a believer. We went to church every time the doors were open. I went to a private Christian school. Literally every single day I heard the Bible taught and proclaimed. I was involved in every program and activity available. It is no exaggeration to say we practically lived at church. I knew the truth, I knew what the Bible said (as best a child can). I always gave the right answers in Sunday school and in Bible class at school. In spite of all of this though, my testimony is similar to Pauls. I knew the truth, yet chose to ignore it. I doubted God’s love. I lived my life in such a manner that assumed everything was ok on the surface, that I believed and followed God, but secretly in my heart I rejected the Lord. Enough had happened in my young life that caused me to want nothing to do with the Lord.

Can you identify with that? Think about the course of your life for a second. Now look what Paul says in this passage. “But I received mercy…the grace of God overflowed…Jesus is patient with us!” Isn’t it wonderful to know that God never gave up on you? And the WHOLE point is to show that God is a loving, caring, kind and patient God who never stops pursuing you! And even when we mess up and get it wrong, He still pursues us. Even when we wander away, He still chases after us.

What I find significant about this passage is the way in which Paul titles himself “the worst of [sinners]”. A flip through earlier pages of the Bible would reveal people who lived much worse lives than Paul did; people who’s lives were more deplorable than his. Charles Spurgeon commented on this passage saying:

“This godly sensitivity toward sin was associated in the apostles mind with an equally vivid sense of the freeness and richness of divine grace. That Christ died not for the righteous but for the guilty is the great thought that is on his mind, and he has no hesitancy in declaring it and in speaking most boldly concerning the exceedingly abundant grace of God in forgiving sin. The union of these two feelings in Paul is by no means an unusual occurrence among human minds, for you will generally find that the people who are most clear in their witness that salvation is by grace are also the people for whom sin is exceedingly sinful. Indeed all those who prize grace most are those who feel most sorrow concerting their transgressions.”

Finally, and I’ll wrap up here, look at Paul’s response in verse 17. He can’t help but praise God. He lifts a song of doxology as he remembers who he was and where he’s been and who and where he is now. Friends let me encourage you to think often of your life. And as you dwell on it, praise God often for the work he has done and continues to do.

God Bless!

Sam


One Response to “October 22, 2019”

  1. Crystal Fraze says:

    So very Thankful that God never gives up on us and patiently persues us.

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