Summary: Do you really want to know and understand what God’s grace is all about?
So What’s This Grace Thing All About?
Have you ever been notified by an attorney that your presence was requested at the reading of someone’s will because your going to be receiving an inheritance? Well most people think this is a bittersweet time for obvious reasons. But for me, I can only imagine what it would be like because I haven’t experienced this yet, but for those who have, I’m told it is a pretty emotional time. When the reading of the will is over, a few days pass, and the excitement settles down, a realization settles in that, “wow... someone actually thought enough of me to leave me something they wanted to have.” And with that thought, they start to examine the relationship they had with this person whom they’re inheriting from.... and this reflection usually reveals three different types of relationships they had with the person their inheriting from.
The first relationship is a blood relationship where the heir and the dead person are family—and the heir receives everything because the dead person didn’t have anyone else to give it to. The second type of relationship is one that’s bound by an obligation where the heir had to take care of the dead person while he or she was still alive, and the heir is now being compensated for it. And the 3rd type of relationship well...that’s the really special one. That’s the one where the dead person is giving them a gift from beyond for no other reason -- except out of love. The heir is receiving something he didn’t work for and something they may not particular deserve. And this 3rd type of relationship is one that parallels the relationship that the Apostle Paul found himself in when he tells us of the inheritance he received, that was given out of pure love. It too was something he didn’t work for, and it was something he didn’t deserve -- but Paul was made an heir to the kingdom of God because the Lord’s grace was poured out on him. And from that point of grace, Paul was not only an heir to the kingdom, but he was also commissioned to begin preaching on behalf of the kingdom.
When we look at this passage where God’s grace was being poured out on Paul, we know that Paul was writing to Timothy, who as a young minister, was facing all sorts of pressures, conflicts, and challenges from the church in Ephesus. Since Timothy was struggling with his position as a minister, Paul writes to counsel and encourage him, and uses himself as an example of what God can do in someone’s life and especially in the ministry.
Looking at v. 12 Paul is giving thanks to the Lord for the gifts he has received from God; the first one is strength for the job that God called Him to, and the second was strength to keep him faithful and reliable. You see, God, by doing this, empowered Paul for his calling. Paul was sharing this with Timothy and basically said, “look at God’s faithfulness in my ministry, this is a result his mercy and grace…and I’d like for you to remember something else, my friend, not only did God save me and grant me mercy and grace, but He did something even more unbelievable -- He actually appointed me to His service! ...Me... me... ?? Who would believe it; I was persecutor and God made me a preacher -- I was a murderer too, and God made me a missionary!...and if this part of my testimony isn’t sufficient enough, then by golly, I’ll be glad to expose myself in humility so that people can see the depth of my depravity in order to behold the depth of God’s grace. I am living proof that the grace of God truly works!”
“So let me tell you about what I was doing with my life and what I was focused on when God’s grace covered me; it covered me at a time when ... I was blaspheming and denying the deity of Christ and forcing others to deny it too. I was graced by God at the time when I was a persecutor who used my physical power to destroy the Church. It was at a time when I made murderous threats that were the trademark of my religious life. It was when I was still persecuting the Christian Church, and when I consented to the stoning of the Lord’s servant, Stephen. The Lord saved me when I was insolent and proud and when I was a self-righteous bully throwing my authority around with violence. It was when I was living in a state of disbelief, and when I was a Gospel-ignorant Jewish leader. It was when I was a dedicated and a well-educated Jew who was so educated in the Law that my mind was blinded from the truth and my heart was impervious to the teachings of the Christ. It was at a time when I mocked the teachings of Jesus and had hunted down and imprisoned God’s people. My friend, behold the grace of God and know that is was poured out on me so that I would be saved, my eyes would be opened, and my faith would now be in Jesus the Christ... in the midst of the stench of my sin.”