Passage: 1 Timothy 1:12-20
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Truth Over Spin
How do you fight when you feel so feeble? When problems seem so big, we often feel small. Ephesians was a large, wealthy, thriving city in the Roman Empire that had rioted in opposition to Christianity. How could a young leader like Timothy make a difference in such an intimidating place? Similarly we may feel that the problems around us outstrip the resources within us; when we feel so weak and the problems seem so big, it is hard to get off the couch and move. Nevertheless, we can fight even when are feeble because God’s grace overflows to show His glory that we might fight.
First God’s grace overflows (1 Tim 1:12–15). Paul was a giant in the faith—planting churches across Asia minor, facing persecution, and bringing leadership to a burgeoning church movement. Timothy, tasked to lead a flagship church, is young, inexperienced, and intimidated. So Paul reminds him of his own background as “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” (1:13) as well as the foremost of sinners (1:15). Despite his adequacies, Christ Jesus was the source of his strength (1:12), mercy (1:13), and grace (1:14), and Christ was not only his Lord but “our Lord” (1:12). God’s grace overflows to the chief of sinners, both Paul and Timothy and all those who believed. Why?
God’s grace overflows to show God’s glory (1 Tim 1:16–17). Paul had received mercy so that Jesus Christ might “display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1:16). Paul’s encounter was not only for him alone but for all those who believed in him for eternal life, including Timothy. And this demonstration of God’s incredible mercy causes Paul to break out in praise: “To the King of the ages, immortal invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1:17). When we see God’s grace, our eyes shift from our needy inadequacy to his glorious adequacy and grace. As a result, we praise Him.
God’s grace overflows to show God’s glory that we might fight (1 Tim 1:18–20). Paul returns to his charge (1:18; cf. 1:3) to Timothy and calls him to “wage the good warfare” (1:18), the good fight of faith (6:12). How was he to fight? First he is to fight by “the prophecies previously made about you” (1:18). Timothy had prophecies about him and spiritual gifts given to him (4:14); instead of being overwhelmed at the challenges before him, he was to recall the prophecies he’d received and gifts he’d been given to fight those fights. Also he was to fight this fight, “holding faith and a good conscience” (1:19).
So what? We similarly often feel overwhelmed at the challenges around us and the inadequacies within us. Yet how can we fight? God’s grace overflows to us to show His glory that we might fight. May we also today fight this good fight of the faith.