Grateful for God’s grace
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:12-14
God did not save us because of our meritorious acts. Paul had not always been a missionary in Christ’s service. From the text, Paul offered his personal testimony as a contrast to the false teachers and leaders in the Ephesian church. His words of testimony matched his life. His life corresponded with the truth he was proclaiming. When our character and lifestyle harmonize with our beliefs, we become a powerful example of God’s truth and reality. Life and belief must complement each other. Paul attributed everything including his transformation in the working of Christ. Whatever Paul was able to point to in his life as exemplary was because of Christ Jesus. Paul had an amazing life of powerful ministry for God. His life and work brought about tremendous results for God’s kingdom. Even so, Paul knew it was because of God from start to finish. He was the giver of power and strength. Paul had demonstrated faithfulness throughout his ministry, and in God’s economy this resulted in greater ministry and responsibility. God gave him the great responsibility of taking the gospel throughout the known world. Even so, “it is God who works in [us]” (Philippians 2:13). Paul can’t help himself but be grateful, for all that who and what he was came from God: “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). Paul did not select his role in life. He knew that God gave him his purpose in life and the direction he needs to take. Here was a man who opposed the work of God; he was disapproving of Christ. He harassed the people of God. He was brutal, having people imprisoned for their faith in Christ the Lord. But when he saw his sinfulness, he was shown mercy. In a dramatic encounter with the living Christ, Paul was rescued from his unbelief. He was saved from his rebellion (see Acts 9). There was no doubt in Paul’s mind that his salvation was due to the grace of our Lord. “Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14). When God’s grace fills our life, we can’t help but be grateful. Out of our thankfulness, springs out love and service. Once we are captured by the gracious salvation of Christ, it will be manifested in our actions. People may claim to know God, but the truth of this love will be revealed by their faith and love.
Noel De Guzman