Thankfulness for Strength and Mercy
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 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.” 1 Timothy 1:12-14
This prayer comes from the first letter that Paul wrote to Timothy. This was written as personal encouragement to Timothy but was also written in such a way that it could be used to encourage the Ephesian Christians. Paul considered Timothy, a son in the faith. In this letter Paul is encouraging Timothy who appears to be considering running away and giving up his ministry. I know of and have heard of ministers who have experienced that at some point or another and I must say even as a lay minister in places of service I have had times that I have wanted to give up. Sometimes ministry can be hard, there are blessings for sure, but I also think it takes a special strength that you can only get from following Jesus to stay in there in certain seasons.
When Paul gets to this prayer in this first chapter of 1 Timothy, he wants to convey his thanks to God for giving him the strength to serve as well as appointing him to service at all. Paul wants his own gospel experience to be an encouragement to Timothy and it can be an encouragement to us as well. Paul describes himself in this passage before he started following Christ, a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent. We know that Paul was persecuting Christians when Jesus found him on the road to Damascus and struck him blind. We know that Paul had an experience like none other coming face to face with Jesus. And that when Jesus found him, he was actually on a mission to kill and persecute Christians. Yet, Paul, even Paul received mercy and God’s grace overflowed for him with faith and love.
If that is not encouragement for us, I don’t know what is, or what will encourage us. You just can’t be too far gone to be used of Christ. And Paul’s conversion proves that. Paul was a chief of sinners, yet God appointed him to be the one who delivered the word to the Gentiles. You don’t have to be smart, you don’t have to be talented or gifted, you just have to be faithful for Him to use you. I’ve often heard it said God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. Just because you may have gone far into sin does not mean you have outlived your usefulness. You just have to be faithful! Paul says he was judged as faithful!
I pray I am always found faithful. I know that I have things in my past that I am not proud of. I know that I am not the smartest or the best educated, but I am grateful for the places that God has had me to serve Him. Now, as well as in the past. The places of service He has given me have always grown me and stretched me. And I always come out the other side feeling stronger. It is a pleasure and pure grace to serve you in this little ministry He has given me! Let me also encourage you, as long as we have breath in our lungs, we are meant to serve Christ. What is your place of service God has given you? He will give you the strength, His grace overflows to you. All you have to do is be faithful and He will work through you too.