Summary: Like Paul, we all may feel that we are disqualified to this great and noble and wonderful task. Yet God has counted us worthy to be His witnesses in the world.
Why Jesus Came 1 Timothy 1:12-17
I received this story by email this week:
A Priest was being honoured at his retirement dinner after 25 years in the parish. A leading local politician and member of the congregation was chosen to make the presentation and to give a little speech at the dinner. However, he was delayed, so the Priest decided to say his own few words while they waited:
'I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when questioned by the police, was able to lie his way out of it. He had stolen money from his parents, embezzled from his employer, had an affair with his boss's wife, taken illegal drugs . . . I was appalled. But as the days went on I learned that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people.'... Just as the Priest finished his talk, the politician arrived full of apologies at being late.
He immediately began to make the presentation and gave his talk: 'I'll never forget the first day our parish Priest arrived,' said the politician. 'In fact, I had the honour of being the first person to go to him for confession.'
In the email the moral to the story is “never, never, never be late”.
The Apostle Paul may feel somewhat like that politician, in fact, he seems to indicate he, indeed, feels like a horrible sinner in the opening paragraphs of his letter to his beloved fellow minister, Timothy.
Paul may have felt akin to another sinner:
Two or three years before the death of John Newton (former slave ship captain and eventual author of the song, "Amazing Grace"), when his sight was so dim that he was no longer able to read, a friend and brother in the ministry called to have breakfast with him. Newton said, "I am not what I ought to be! How imperfect and deficient I am! I am not what I wish to be, although I abhor that which is evil and would cleave to what is good! I am not what I hope to be, but soon I shall be out of mortality, and with it all sin and imperfection. "Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor yet what I hope to be, I can truly say I am not what I once was: a slave to sin and Satan. I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge that by the grace of God I am what I am!" (From a sermon by Steve Shepherd, The Grace of God, 11/1/2011)
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
One pastor said
Grace goes beyond mercy. Mercy is the Governor giving a guilty man a pardon. Grace is the Governor giving the man a pardon and then taking him home to live with him.
Tomas Phillips CEO, Raytheon had a friend, Charles Coleson, over for dinner.
Coleson was Chief Counsel to the President of the United States at that time, Richard Nixon.
He gave Coleson a book C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, in which Lewis argued that the Great Sin is Pride. “He’s writing about me”. Tom told him how he had gone forward in a Billy Graham crusade and given his life to Christ and asked to pray with him. He said no. He had never prayed except in church, so Tom prayed for him.
That night for the first time in my life I was sure there was a God, and I was sure he was here.
He left their home and sat down in his car, and began to leave. As he drove out the driveway he began to weep. He wept so much he had to pull the car over.