“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me as the foremost Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.”
(1 Timothy 1:16)
What a great verse coming right on the hills. So in 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul writes that, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And he said, “I’m the foremost.” When it comes to sinners, I’m at the top of that list in terms of being the worst of sinners.” But then he says, “Right after this, I received mercy for this reason.” That’s a good question. Why have I received mercy? Why have you received the mercy of God in your life? I think about this all the time, especially as I go to places in the world where people have never heard of Jesus and they still haven’t heard the gospel.
Let’s praise God for His patience towards us. Each of our lives display a picture of God’s perfect patience.
Why was I born into a place where I have heard the gospel? Why have I received mercy like I have? Paul says, “I receive mercy for this reason, that in me as such a sinner that I am as the foremost Jesus might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.” “My life…” Paul says, “Is a picture of God’s patience that He bears with sinners and He pursues sinners even though worst of sinners He pursues with His love.” Paul is saying this but I think any one of us listening to this that knows the mercy of God would confess honestly. Me too. My life is a testimony to God’s grace, mercy and patience. That my life is a picture of God’s patience and my story’s a bit different than Paul’s.
I was not persecuting Christians like Paul was. I was as best as I can tell around six years old when I placed my faith in Jesus. But I would say without a shadow of a doubt or hesitation that God has been just as patient with me as He was with Paul. As He is with all of us, because none of us deserve God’s mercy. That’s the whole point of mercy. We don’t deserve it. God is so merciful and so patient with us. I think back in my life at all the ways I have turned from God, wandered in this way or that way. Rebelled in this way or that way and God has been so patient with.
Just think back to your life, how have you seen God’s patience with you? Just reflect on that as we pray together and say, “God, thank you for your patience with us. God, before others who are listening to this right now. I thank you for your patience with me. There is no question that I would not be following you, pastoring a church, during this podcast. So many things in my life… I’m married, a father with kids, just knowing you, walking with you. There’s no way I would… any of these things would be true in my life, left in myself. There’s no way any of these things would be true in my life if you are not so patient with me, I praise you for your patience with me and I praise you for your patience with others, with others who are listening to this right now. I don’t obviously know every single one of their stories but you have shown your patience, your mercy, your kindness in not giving them over to themselves at this point or and that way. You’ve been patient in your love for them.
We together praise you for your patience toward us and we think about others who are still not in the church, not in your family, who have not come to faith in Christ to think about it. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is patient bearing with sinners, desiring sinners to come to repentance, to come to know your love God.” God we pray that you would continue to show your patience in ways that resound to your glory just like Paul has written in 1 Timothy 1:16, that today we pray that more people would come to know your love as a result of your patience with them, that more people would come to know your mercy. In Jesus that you would use us. Use each of us as instruments in your hands to point people to your patients, to your kindness, to your love today in Christ. So that more people might say with Paul in 1 Timothy 1:16, Jesus has displayed his patience in my life and he’s led others to eternal life through his patience toward me. God, may it be so we pray. 1 Timothy 1:16 in Jesus name. Amen.”
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