Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s Foundation Podcast. It’s great to have you join us again. We do pray that God keeps speaking to us and encouraging us as we read and reflect on the scriptures together.
Our passage today is 1 Timothy 1 : 12 -17. You can hear the passage read in full at the end but here is verse 16 which we will focus on today.
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
Paul writes – I was shown mercy. Mercy is a really powerful word isn’t it? It’s perhaps not something we hear that often in our modern vocabulary. It feels like a word from another time. As I considered a reflection for today, I was reminded of a clip from the film Gladiator. Maximus, the Roman solider who has found himself enslaved as a Gladiator stands over the defeated victim of his latest battle. The crowd in the Coliseum chant for blood. They want to see a kill. Caesar – who sits in judgement in the place of honour- holds his hand up and then turns his thumb downwards. The judgement is cast – show no mercy. What does Maximus do? He throws down his sword. The crowd are in disbelief. ‘Maximus the merciful, ‘they cry.
Mercy, especially when we think about God’s mercy, is really difficult to wrap our heads around. It challenges the way the world thinks – about what is right and wrong, what people deserve and ultimately who gets to decide.
Paul explains to Timothy in today’s passage that he was shown that same mercy. God’s mercy which demonstrates that he is actively kind to those who have no right to expect anything at all from him. To those who don’t deserve it. To anyone – no matter what they have done – If only they would turn and receive Him. God’s grace and mercy are so opposed to way our world operates that we so often struggle to comprehend it.
We can see this in today’s passage as Paul shares his reflections with Timothy. Remember that he’s reminding Timothy here of the Gospel he is to preach. And at the very core of the Gospel message is this… we don’t deserve God’s love and his forgiveness. Paul, it would seem, was acutely aware of this. Verse 13 – He recants his life story prior to encountering Jesus on the Damascus road. He describes how he was a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man. He describes himself and his former lifestyle in these terms – ‘the worst of sinners’. If ever there was someone who was more opposed to God– then it was Paul –that’s how he’d come to think of himself. The worst of sinners
But…reading from verse 16 again, for that very reason God has shown me mercy.
As we saw yesterday – the law condemn us. We all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But… the Gospel truth is that God has sent Jesus to take our sin. We sing it don’t we in that famous worship song – Christ Alone.
‘For God the Just was satisfied to look on him and pardon me.’
God is a just God. Justice has to be served. There is a consequence for our inability to live out the life God calls us to. But Jesus is the one who pays the cost. God pays it on our behalf. It’s his life for ours. It’s His mercy for our transgressions.
It’s this mercy that Paul speaks of in today’s passage. Such mercy which displays God’s infinite patience for us his creation. God is so patient with us. Such mercy that has so transformed the life of Paul. Who in his own heart became so convicted of the darkness within him (the worst of sinners) but in the same moment so convinced of God’s forgiveness and kindness towards him that he was compelled to take this Gospel message and present it to others.
The Gospel is personal but it isn’t private. What we have received we are to extend to others. That same mercy shown to Paul is shown to each of us also. These are Jesus words from Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
God’s mercy, his radical and seemingly incomprehensible kindness, should extend to all areas of our lives: from the words we use, what we do with our wallets, to who we spend our time with. One way I’ve found that this has really outworked itself in my life is my attitude towards those who are homeless/on the streets. Before I became a committed follower of Jesus, I’d often ignore or swerve to avoid people. I now often find that I’m compelled to stop, to take the time to have a conversation, to offer to buy food or a coffee. It just doesn’t seem fair that I have so much and they seemingly have so little. And in those moments I sense God showing me something of his mercy again and calling me not to judge or to ignore but to be kind. It seems such a small thing but its mercy. And it all points to Jesus.
How and where can we be mercy bringers this day?
God, thank you for your amazing grace. Thank you that we see that on the cross- the place where your perfect justice and mercy meet in the person of Jesus, our saviour. By your Spirit help us to know that we have received your mercy this day – that we are loved. Help us Jesus to walk in step with you – to give as we have received. May we reflect your unfailing kindness to the world around us – one simple act of love at a time. Amen
BIBLE READING: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.