Second Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Mercy and Grace Overflowing
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord. He gave me real power! He thought I could be trusted and gave me a ministry. 13 In the past, I persecuted, spoke evil, and acted violently against Christians. But, God had mercy on me, for I didn't really know what I was doing, since I didn't believe at the time. 14 With faith and love in Christ Jesus, however, the Lord's grace overflows within me!
15 You can trust and completely accept this following phrase: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.' I know it's true since I am first among sinners. 16 Because this is so, I was shown mercy by God. Christ Jesus was totally patience with me first of all. In this way, I am an example to everyone who would believe in Jesus and receive eternal life.
17 Let everyone give honor and glory forever to the eternal King, the only unseen God who will never die!
12 I give thanks to the (One) having empowered me, CHRIST JESUS our Lord, because HE considered me trustworthy, being set aside for service, 13 formerly being a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent man, but I was shown mercy, because in ignorance I did (things) without faith. 14 But, with the faith and love in CHRIST JESUS , the grace of the Lord overflowed. 15 (This) saying is trustworthy and worthy of complete acceptance: CHRIST JESUS came into the world to save sinners,' whom I am the first. 16 Because of this, I was shown mercy, so that CHRIST JESUS might show complete patience in me first (of all) as an example for those being about to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the Kings of ages, incorruptible, unseen, only God, honor and glory into ages of ages. Amen.
1:12 'I give thanks to the (One) having empowered me' The verb in this clause is actually 'have favor (or grace).' The author has a favorable place for Christ in his life, in response to the favorable place God gave him in abundance (1:14). There is a symmetry between the grace God gave and the favor the author gave back to God.
The Pastoral letters (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus) have been controversial for their authorship. Did Paul or his secretary pen these correspondence? Or, were these the work of some second century Christian who wrote in the spirit of Paul? If we put that question aside, these letters tell us much about the shape and ministry of an emerging urban Christianity between 60 to 150 A.D.
In these few verses from 1 Timothy, the author recounted Paul's faith life. Formerly, Paul was a zealous opponent of Christianity. But, after his conversion, he fought for the faith. Notice, the author did not focus on Paul's activity after the conversion, per se. He focused on the mercy of God! The Paul's very life was built upon God's grace, both his ministry and his spiritual life. And, as God treated Paul, so he would treat others.
This brief review of Paul's life should give us hope. Despite our sinfulness, God is still active in our lives. He gives us courage and strength, love and hope. He pours his grace and mercy upon us in overflowing measure!
How has your life changed because of God's mercy? How does his activity in your life give you hope?