Last Sunday we studied from 1 Timothy 1:8-11 and understood the role of God’s Law, the right view and lawful use of it in our lives.
This Sunday we will look at the next 6 verses i.e 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Verse 12 – “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service”
As Paul talks about his calling and appointment as a servant of Jesus and the preacher of the gospel he is thanking Jesus for the strength he provides him to accomplish that task, as the task set before Paul was a big one.
He is well aware that he could not accomplish that task on his own strength.
As he talks about God’s right judgement of God appointing a man like him for his service, Paul is referring to the day and time when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus.
Paul’s encounter with Jesus was an extraordinary one, wish Jesus continues to meet with radicals even in this generation.
Let’s read Paul encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:1-22
In verse 22 its written about Paul (known as Saul before conversion) that “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.”
I believe it is this strength that Paul is referring to in 1 Timothy 1:12 as he writes “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service”
Paul, as he is writing this letter to the Church in Ephesus is letting them know how much he has to depend on the strength the Lord Jesus provides him to do what He is called to do.
As a leader, I think I can to an extent identify with Paul’s statement because every time I think of my calling and the task set before me I see all my incapability’s, incompetence & short comings. And my natural tendency is to accomplish it in our own strength.
I think what we need to understand here from this verse is that we are weak people, enable to do the things God has called us to do on our strength.
Yesterday my wife Jane went out with some ladies to do follow-up with people who responded to the gospel during our evangelism time. She left at 2:30 pm and after much walking under the sun they finally found their location but had a very bad experience interacting with the family.
She came back home at around 5:30 pm and after sharing with me for a while I saw her lying down on the couch tired and exhausted. All I could see was this weak woman with no strength left to pick herself up – her physical weakness at that time reminded me of my own intellectual inability and weakness even to preparing this sermon.
Isn’t it our weakness that God uses to display his strength – In the natural we are weal people who can accomplish nothing on our own strength.
Recognizing our weakness and trusting in God’s strength is what God desires from us.
That is why Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 writes “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
This truth is not applicable only for leaders in the forefront but to every Christian believer.
When you go home today take a piece of paper and write down all your god given gifts, talents, calling, places you want to go, people you want to meet and share the gospel etc. And then plan to action it in the next couple of months.
You will start feeling the pressure – feelings of incapability, incompetency, fear, anxiety will bog you down.
In the natural world there are 2 ways of responding to these feelings
First, is to try and accomplish it on our own strength which I believe will lead you to failure eventually. You might accomplish a lot of things but will never find joy and satisfaction.
Second one the most common reaction and that is to give up and shut down which is also the easiest option.
We often forget the 3rd way of responding to those feelings and that is to trust in God’s ability to provide you with his strength to make it happen. We fail to go to God for strength.
It is during these hours that we find it difficult to put our trust in God and believe in his capabilities.
The greatest source of encouragement to trust in God’s strength and ability is to look back and remind yourself what He has already accomplished for you through Christ.
Paul goes on to write in verse 13, 14 & 15 of the greatest miracle God performed in his life.
“Though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
We have to constantly remind ourselves of what God has done in our lives is Miracle.
Look at ourselves and think about our past and present lives. The sinfulness in us that manifest daily through our words, deeds and actions. Do you think we have any hope to save ourselves from the wrath of God, from the penalty of sin, from life in hell.
No way! Except for the mercy and grace of Jesus we’ve received and continue to receive everyday. The day our hearts believed in this gospel and put our trust in Jesus, God changed our lives forever.
He changed a blasphemer, persecutor, insolent opponent like Saul into Paul, the preacher of the gospel.
He changed an adulterer, lair and cheat like Saju into a holy and righteous man of God.
In verse 14 Paul writes “the grace of God OVERFLOWED for me”
To a hopeless bunch of people he gave hope.
Brothers & sisters – It is the gospel that needs to be your greatest encouragement to trust in God’s ability to see you through everything life throws at you, the hardships, the fear, feelings of incapability, incompetency etc.
Looking back at what the Lord has already accomplished for us through Christ should astonish our hearts and push us to purse him and his purposes even more.
The Bible encourage us again and again to live this kind of a lifestyle – A life trusting in God and to put our trust in him.
And here’s why God chose to show us his mercy, call us out and appoint us as his servants.
1 Timothy 1:16-17 – “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”
God uses our weakness to display his strength, he uses the fool to shame the wise.
In Acts 4:13 people looked at Jesus disciples and said “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus”
God uses weak vessels like us – shows us his mercy and grace – put’s our lives on display as an example to other who are yet to believe in him for eternal life.
In the light of what’s shared todays here are three applications we can take home.
1. When you sense God’s calling over your life – the things he ask you to do. Don’t give up on yourself because of your inabilities and fear rather trust in God to provide you with strength to accomplish your calling. Because it is through your weakness he shows himself strong.
2. Draw strength and encouragement from what God has already done for your through Christ. Every day when you get up from your bed thank God for the gospel, for Jesus – draw your strength in knowing who your God is and what he is capable of doing.
3. Remember when you trust God and step out in faith he uses your life as an example to many who are yet to receive eternal life.
“The King of ages, immortal, invisible God receives the honour and glory forever and ever.