Jesus Makes An Example Through His Grace.

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This morning I meditated and studied 1 Timothy 1:12-17 and was admonished for my previous thinking on a certain matter.

My Senior Pastor and I have been having an ongoing discussion about God and His judgment toward sinners. Specifically, we have been discussing how often we desire for God to give us mercy so quickly, but then ask for swift judgment on those who sin against us.

Paul in his first letter to Timothy I feel addresses this issue when he says:

[15] 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. [16] 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 1:15-16 ESV)

In the previous context Paul explains his radical insolence toward Christ and Christianity in general (cf. Acts 7:54-60). From there Paul explains how because of his former ignorance, Christ extended mercy to him.

Now, when I think of someone being adamantly opposed to God (say, Bill Maher) I often get this feeling in my stomach that God should send swift (and rightful) judgment. But according to this passage in 1 Timothy, it seems as if God delights in making an example of sinners not by His wrath, but through His grace.

If history were rewritten, and the Apostle Paul was never converted to Christianity but rather struck dead (which, God did too from time to time; Leviticus 10:1-2, Acts12:21-23) we would all look back and think: “Yeah, saw that one coming.”

But for God to take someone like Paul who personally oversaw the murders of countless followers of Christ and make an example of him through the extension of grace beckons the response: “I didn’t see that one coming.”

So when I think about guys like Bill Maher, and specifically how I often desire that God would bring judgment on them, it seems more fitting according to 1 Timothy 1:12-17 to pray that God would make an example of them through His mercy, not His wrath. I mean, I know I would rather God make an example of me through grace, not judgment. Wouldn’t you?

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