Have you ever wondered why things happen to you? I confess, sometimes I wonder this when seemingly bad things are happening to me or to my family. I can feel this way when it seems like one thing after another is occurring. Unfortunately, I seldom think this way when good things happen. As painful as this is to say, sometimes I feel like I or my family deserve good things to happen. More than painful, that statement is prideful. It reveals something deep and insidious in my heart that creeps into my mind from time to time. It is a reminder that I need God’s grace and the Gospel each day as much as any person alive. The apostle Paul understood this about himself. I am by no means an “apostle Paul.” It’s just nice to know that I’m not alone in my struggle. Yet, in his first letter to Timothy, Paul reminds Timothy and hopefully us that there is a purpose for God’s grace coming to us. 1 Timothy 1:15-16 says, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all long-suffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”
Paul begins by reminding Timothy of why Jesus came into the world. Sometimes, we as Christians can take for granted certain biblical truths, and it is always nice to be reminded of them. Then, Paul says that he is the chief sinner. It is Paul’s way not only of confessing his need for the Gospel, but also to remind Timothy of his need for the Gospel. Finally, Paul talks about why God saved him, and of course why God saved Timothy. God saved them so that those around them could see the power of God and the Gospel, and so that they could hear the truths of the Gospel. What was true for Paul and Timothy is also true for you and I. As a pastor I enjoy learning from says, “The Gospel came to me on its way to someone else.” In that statement, Pastor Robby Gallaty is stating what Paul is telling Timothy here in our verses. In the first chapter of 1 Timothy, I see two main takeaways or charges Paul is giving Timothy.
The first one is a charge to Timothy to give himself to learning and teaching sound doctrine. Even if you aren’t a Bible teacher, this is an important point for you. There are a lot of false teachers out there promoting false doctrines. If we aren’t careful, it is easy to get sucked into the charisma of a pastor/teacher. When we focus on how they deliver the message more than what message they are delivering, we can miss false teachings being slipped into their message. Charisma is good, eloquence of words is helpful, but neither of them are prerequisites for teaching the Word of God. Content trumps charisma every day! Whether you feel like a theologian as a Christian or not, you are. Every time you open your mouth and talk about God, you are making a theological statement. The way that you and I live is making a theological statement, because how we live reflects what we believe is true. Therefore, we must make sure that our words and our life match and reflect the glory of the Gospel and the truths of Scripture. The other charge that Paul gives here is to share the Gospel. The first charge applies to the church. This charge applies to our relationship with those around us. Paul had a past, it was a checkered past to say the least. Yet, the power of the Gospel saved and cleansed him from it all. God did that not just for Paul’s sake, but also for everyone that Paul would come in contact with after he was saved. The Gospel came to Paul on its way to Timothy and many, many others. The same is true for you and I. We have a past. Yet, if we have surrendered to the Gospel, we have been saved and cleansed from that past. It no longer defines us, Jesus does. We are no longer held captive by our past, instead we have been set free by Jesus in order to be captivated by Jesus. We need to share our testimony. The world needs to hear the hope of the Gospel, maybe now more than ever. God can and will use you, if you will surrender to Him and allow Him to work in you and through you. How can you do it?
You can do this in three minutes or less, and God may use it to impact and change someone’s eternity. Don’t blow past that statement. Go back and read it again, and let the gravity of it sink in. A simple act of obedience and submission on our part could be used by God to change someone’s present and future. Here is the great part, it doesn’t depend on you. It depends on the God who saved you! How can you be used? Here it is. In the first minute, share what you life was like before Christ. Don’t water it down, but also don’t glorify your past sinful life. Be truthful about who you were before Jesus saved you. In the second minute, share how you came to know that you needed to be saved. What was it that showed you your sinfulness, and caused you to cry out to Jesus? Finally, in the last minute share what God is doing and has done in your life. Let them hear of the faithfulness and power of God. Maybe you are thinking, “I can’t do this.” You are right and you are wrong. On your own, you can’t and in fact you won’t. However, if you surrender and submit to Jesus, He will use you to speak confidently and boldly about His amazing grace. And that just might change their life! Just remember, “The Gospel came to you on its way to someone else.” Who will God speak to through you this week?
By His grace and for His glory,