S84P1 – As mercy reigns: hope abounds

I Timothy 1:12-16

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  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 longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

He was a gruff man, or at least that was how he seemed.  Whenever I was over at the house he rarely said hello.  I was friends with his daughter, and there were several of us who visited often, but he never expressed much interest in us.  I spent many holidays and birthdays of my youth with that family, and over time I began to notice something.  Whether it was a certain person or a certain circumstance, that man could be soft and forgiving.  It let me know that I had a chance of getting to know him and gain his favor.  Seeing him be kind and merciful with others told me that he could be kind and merciful toward me.  Eventually, I was able to build a relationship solid enough that he would ask me to work for him, which was a true honor. 

Some people see God as an angry father who does nothing but discipline and reprimand his children.  They see his judgments and hear his commands, and they think there is no room for love and grace with him.  For those of us who know him, we get the opportunity to be his object lessons.  God pours mercy on us, and the hope is that others see the example and come to understand that side of him.  Paul is the ultimate object lesson when it comes to mercy.  For someone with his history to be absolved and become a child of God should give hope to anyone. We might not have his history of sin against God, but our testimony can be just as compelling, especially for those who have seen us go from being sinners to being saints. 

The mercy God shows through us should give hope to those who believe they are beyond forgiveness.  The work He does in our lives should give them hope that He can work in their lives as well.  When they are faced with situations which seem impossible, they can see God’s power illustrated in others through their victories.  Paul knew that one reason for God showering him with mercy was to give others hope for that same mercy.  We must realize that the same is true about the mercy we receive.  Our spiritual freedom should show others that freedom is attainable.  Father, thank You for the mercy You have granted us, and let our freedom be a shining example of hope for others.