** Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. ** 1 Timothy 1:2
Reading the Bible is an adventure. We just don’t know what will catch our attention. Sometimes it sends a dagger of guilt and shame into our hearts for doing wrong. Other times it fills us with joy and hope over a promise that the Lord gives us in the midst of a problem. Other times it takes us deep into someone else’s story so we can learn how better to live out our own story.
And then there are days where one word shouts to us to stop and pay attention and dig deeper.
Here in the first sentences of 1 Timothy, 3 words jump out at me. Grace. Mercy. Peace.
We are going to take a few days and look at them and see what the Lord teaches us….
The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines grace 20 different ways. Let’s look at the first 4.
-Favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace. (eg: to give or do something nice for another)
-Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him. (eg: undeserved kindness or blessing from God to us)
-Favorable influence of God; divine influence or the influence of the spirit, in renewing the heart and restraining from sin. (eg: God helping us not mess up, again)
-The application of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner. (ie: God’s eternal blindness to our sin)
Which definition do you think applies to 1 Timothy 1? Maybe all of them?
Paul is the author of this short letter to Timothy. Paul took Timothy under his wing when he was a young man. He helped him understand the Scriptures, trained him in the ministry and helped him face the hardships of life. Paul had a great investment in Timothy and I imagine he wanted to see him continue growing in faith through all of the trials of life and ministry.
In verse 14 of the same chapter, Paul reminds Timothy that he himself received great grace from the Lord, being a persecutor of Christians before his own salvation.
** And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. ** 1 Timothy 1:14
So, Paul is the voice of experience. He remembers his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. He received forgiveness for his sin and cruelties. The Lord protected him and revived him after many beatings and stonings and imprisonment. The Lord provided his every need and used Paul to reach many with the gospel. Paul experienced all 4 of our definitions of grace firsthand.
For that reason, Paul writes to Timothy and wishes for him the same grace that he has received.
According to our definitions, Grace is favor that brings blessing. Favor that brings forgiveness. Favor that answers prayer. Favor that is a balm for our guilty feelings regarding our mistakes and sin. Paul wishes Timothy the same grace that each of us can experience in our own lives.
Paul is saying, ‘may God grant you grace, just like He did for me’. Isn’t that our wish for all those that we know? Don’t we want our family and friends and neighbors to all experience the grace of God? Don’t we want them all to be forgiven, blessed and receive the benefits of His promises?
Paul KNOWS what it is like to live with God’s grace in his life. And he remembers the years he lived without it. He remembers the old days. The hard heart, the cruelties that he poured out on believers in Christ, the words that came out of his mouth. The selfishness. The pride and ego. The perverse thoughts.
Sometimes, we need to look back and remember the past in order to see the good in our today.
It is the middle of the week for some of us or maybe we are reading this on the weekend. Whenever it is, let’s all take some time to look around and see the grace that we are living in today. Let’s take a look at those around us and be reminded again what it is like to not live with such an abundant amount of grace. And then we can look at our own abundance and be thankful. Let’s feel the warmth of our homes, the health of our family, the blessings that come after tragedy to comfort us.
Then, let’s think of someone that we can pray for that does not have all that we have. And let’s ask for opportunities to share this great grace with them. Someone has probably already popped into our minds. May the Lord open their hearts and ears and eyes so they can receive the grace that each of us enjoys today.