His Patience (1 Timothy 1:12-17)
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Many countries have professional sports leagues. These leagues are populated by athletes who compete long and hard during the season. They train hard, they acquire new skills, they work diligently at what they do, all in the hopes that as a team they might be able to win the Cup or trophy they’re competing for. When I was growing up here in Canada hockey was a big sport. It still is today. Teams compete all season long. They put themselves through the rigors of training, exercising, traveling, and working hard in order to win the Stanley Cup. They talk about hoisting the cup at the end of the season and skating around the rink with it. In this way, they can show the world just how great their team is, how great their work ethic is, and how hard they worked to achieve the number one spot. A trophy is a good way to symbolize someone’s achievement and their efforts.
God’s Patience Is Our Salvation
The same is true in the Christian life, except that the One who holds up HIs trophies is the Lord. The Lord is the victor, the Redeemer who holds up His trophies for all to see. He is the One who lifts up his trophies – people redeemed by Christ – trophies of His marvelous grace. God demonstrates in our lives what He has achieved through His Son, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again. Through Jesus, God forgives us, pardons us, renews us, and exercises His boundless patience toward us. He is patient with us before we repent and patient with us after we repent.
God shows great patience with us, and that’s in part, what Paul is getting at in 1 Timothy 1:12-17. In verses 12 to 14, Paul talks about how grateful he is for the amazing grace of God in his life. After all, he was once a blasphemer. That is, he blasphemed God and God’s work in Messiah, in Christ. He was also a persecutor. We find out from Acts 9:1-2 that Paul (then called Saul) went out of his way to persecute Christians, breathing murderous threats against them. He even traveled for days, spending money and time, trying to track down Christians so that he might persecute them to the point of imprisonment or death. Finally, he tells us that not only was he a blasphemer and a persecutor, he was a violent and arrogant man. But, in spite of all this, he was shown mercy and grace; the love of God was poured out in his life.
That’s what God can do for us and in us as well. The Lord holds up Paul, the blasphemer and persecutor, as a trophy for all to see, for all to know that they too can find mercy and grace in Christ. Paul tells us, “Listen. That was my life before Christ saved me. So here is a trustworthy saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners and I am the worst of them.” But why does Paul tell Timothy this? Why does God through Paul tell us this? The answer is in verse 16. Paul says, “I was treated with kindness and mercy so that in me Christ Jesus might demonstrate His utmost patience for all those who would believe in Christ for eternal life.”
You see, God has given us in Paul, an example of just how patient God is. We need to know this before we become a Christian. After we become a Christian we need to know how patient God is with us on the Pathway journey of discipleship with Christ. Christ is patient with us, waiting for us, teaching us, guiding, empowering, and purifying us as we process life with Him.
Now we shouldn’t use God’s patience as an opportunity to sin, thinking that our Father is weak on sin or will not chasten us as a wise and good father chastens his own son or daughter. That would be a mistake. We want to use his patience to persevere in growing in holiness as we intentionally pursue Christ and learn from Him. So what do we learn from 1 Timothy 1:12-17 and especially 15-16? We learn that every person in Christ is a trophy of God’s grace and that He is very long-suffering and gentle toward us. We also learn that He is patient with us so that others might learn about Him and desire to enter into relationship with Him. Finally, we learn that God’s patience leads us to praise Him, since all honor and glory belong to Him alone, the only God, the immortal, the eternal King (1 Tim 1:17).
So as you walk the Pathway with Christ, you are going to struggle at times. You’re going to stumble and so on, but remember the example of God’s great patience with Paul and how He wants to be patient with you as well. He wants to pick you up whenever you fall. Satan wants to kill, steal, and destroy (Jn 10:10). God wants to bring you through repentance to full on trust in Him and to renew your life on the Pathway. That’s why Paul tells us about his life, so that we might know that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners like us, to rescue us from the dominion of sin and certain judgment. He came to usher us into a new place of life, purity, holiness, righteousness and all that it means to belong to Christ. God’s patience really does mean salvation for us!
So God bless you as you meditate on these thoughts today. Regardless of where you’re at right now, what you’ve done and where you’ve come from, God is patient. So turn your heart to Him, renew your life in him, and trust them as you walk on the Pathway with Christ.