More than Enough Grace
When last we were together, we talked about our words being seasoned with grace and being a life-giving force when used for good. The good news is that even when we slip up, makes mistakes and fail, there is still grace for us. As we continue to follow grace (Charis in Greek) through the New Testament our next stop is in the letter 1 Timothy. This letter was written to Timothy by the apostle Paul. This was a letter of encouragement for Timothy. He was in Ephesus and his task was to teach and instruct the believers not to get caught up in false teachings, myths, genealogies and speculations but to stay focused on the truth of the gospel. Timothy’s purpose was to keep people focused on instruction on love that comes from purity of heart, a clean and good conscience and sincerity of faith. Paul goes on to tell Timothy:
I am grateful to the One who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He considered me faithful in putting me into ministry, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I was treated with mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief, and our Lord’s grace was abundant, bringing faith and love in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them! But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate His utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life. Now to the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.I put this charge before you, Timothy my child, in keeping with the prophecies once spoken about you, in order that with such encouragement you may fight the good fight. To do this you must hold firmly to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith. (1 Timothy 1:12-19 NET)
Paul reminds Timothy of the great grace that is available in Jesus. The same grace is available to everyone. That same grace took Saul, the persecutor and murderer of early Christians, and turned his life around to become Paul; possibly the greatest evangelists and preachers of all time. The transforming power of grace is unstoppable. Let’s look at the same passage only this time from The Message:
I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus. Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now He shows me off—evidence of His endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting Him forever. Deep honor and bright glory to the King of All Time— One God, Immortal, Invisible, ever and always. Oh, yes! I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in. (1 Timothy 1:12-19 MSG)
Timothy, though not Paul’s real son, was his spiritual son. Paul wanted this young man to be encouraged. If God’s grace was big enough to transform Paul’s former life into the life Paul now lives, it can accomplish anything! God took Saul and transformed him to Paul by His great mercy, grace and patience. The power of Paul’s transformed life lead to the body of Christ growing throughout every area Paul went on mission to, lives were touched and forever changed which lead to spiritual children like Timothy who would rise up and carry on the spread of the gospel to future generations. It is a passing of the baton, if you will. Was Paul’s ministry finished? No, his ministry lasted until the day he died. I believe that Paul wanted to instill in Timothy that nothing was bigger than His God and God’s grace is more than able to accomplish what to us seems like a total impossibility. Notice Paul encourages Timothy with the words “do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and yourself. After all this is a fight we’re in.”
My friends, we are in a battle! We are an unseen battle for our lives. The choices we make in our lives affect us and they affect those around us. It doesn’t matter whether it is food choices, morality choices, choices over careers, or choices over the words we speak. Everything we do touches those around us in some way; either positive or negative. Just as Saul’s choices had a negative impact, Paul’s had a positive impact. God’s grace was more than enough to turn Saul’s life around and it was more than enough to make Paul’s gratitude so strong that he committed the rest of his life in its entirety to making disciples of as many people as would accept Jesus. Paul wanted to make sure that Timothy knew without a doubt that the same grace was more than enough for anything Timothy would face as he embarked in ministry. It is also big enough for you and for me. Whatever struggle we face or battle we are in, His grace is enough! As Paul encouraged Timothy, I believe he also encourages us: “be fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and yourself. After all this is a fight we’re in.” Let’s ‘fight the good fight’ (1 Timothy 1:18); run the race set before us with endurance (Hebrew 12:1) and by His grace finish well!
Grace and peace to you!