Summary: The thought that an individual could be so utterly unredeemable is dismissed by Paul when he tells Timothy that if God could save him, He can save anybody.
What God can do with the Counted Out
All glory and Praise to the Lamb that was slain. How we give thanks to God for all His great mercies that He has shown toward us.
While watching the organization of any game of pick-up, whether it is baseball, basketball, football or any other activity, there is no question that there will always be some persons who are left out. As the captains are calling out “We got him” or “we’ll take her", there is always that person standing there hoping, praying that someone would choose them, only to be left standing there with others who didn’t make the cut.
Perhaps it was because they just didn’t run fast enough or their jump shot is always off. It could be because they are too short or fat or skinny and just don’t have the skills needed to help the team win. Still yet, it could be because the person is a poor sportsman and doesn’t know how to play without getting mad and starting a fight. All of these possibilities and more exist as to why they may have been excluded.
Well, maybe this is not your experience, maybe you have never sat on the sideline of life and had to deal with questions like “what’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t anybody want me? How come I am always disregarded?” Maybe you have never had that sinking feeling that you are insignificant and worthless. Even so, despite many of our personal experiences, there are millions of people who do feel this way. These are counted-out folk. They have been counted out by those in the upper echelon, counted out by the political system, counted out by the ecclesiastical community, and even counted out by family.
They are counted out in society, counted out in the edifices of education,counted out in the corporate structure, and in the legislation of laws. They are counted out from better housing, better wages, better opportunities, and from a better way of life. They are stigmatized and marginalized and profiled as being less than. They are counted-out folk with no one to intervene on their behalf.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that while certain individual count others out, the truth is that they themselves have been counted out as well. The whole entire human race has been counted out by sin. Sure, there are those of us who feel that we are about above others and that we are not as bad as other folk. We are not murderers, adulterers, homosexuals, fornicators, pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, dope addicts, alcoholics. But if we would be truthful today, we would have to admit that we all still struggle with something. We would all have to say Amen to the words of Paul when he declared “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of
God (Romans 3:23).
In the biblical text, the Apostle Paul sets out to instruct the young pastor Timothy on the importance of remembering why he does what he does. (I wonder sometimes why is it that we will spend time coming to church but don’t understand why.) Paul says to Timothy that this church thing is for the express purpose of reaching those who would come to believe in Jesus. He says to Timothy, in essence, “the dealings of Christ with me, of course, are not unique. My experience is the same in kind, though not in degree, as that of all saved sinners. Christ’s longsuffering will never undergo a more severe test than it did in my case, so that no sinner need ever despair ." In other words, Paul is saying that He should have been counted out but God’s mercy counted him in.
Through this text we should come to recognize and agree with the profound statement that Paul makes concerning the longsuffering of Christ. He says, this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. The word faithful is the Greek word pistos and carries the meaning of trustworthiness. I know that in the days that we live in, one of the most difficult things to do is to just take someone’s word. Even in long stating relationships, there is that tendency to be tentative about believing what we are told. People are suspicious about everything and this suspicion plays out in every area of our lives. Granted, there are things that we should not believe, like there are people from another planet who will deliver certain believer in a spaceship. We can not believe everything we see or hear on television or read in the newspaper. We cannot believe every man who claims to be sent by God nor can we believe that everyone in church is saved. If we would be honest today, the truth is that some of us here are even suspicious about the Word of God and its relevance in our lives. But Paul informs us that this statement he is about to make is not suspect. That is, you can accept it, it is worthy of all acceptation.