This week I had the privilege of waiting for a copier technician to visit our church and fix our broken down machine. The copier is in need of much pricier long-term repairs, but the tech was able to recalibrate the machine to get it working in the near term.
In life and ministry I think we are much the same; we need calibration. We might get it in a change of perspective, a long conversation, by taking a different route home from work, or startling news. It is that realignment in life that gets us back to what is important. And as Christians, the main instrument of calibration for us must be the Word of God and his gospel.
Today, it is the words of Paul to Timothy that are serving up some recalibration for me.
“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. 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.” (1 Timothy 1:12-15 ESV).
In this section of Scripture, Paul has opened his letter by encouraging Timothy to fight against false teaching that was creeping into the church, the cultural influences challenging sound doctrine. Then he gives the truth Timothy is to stand in, that Jesus came to save sinners. This the good news. But there is more here.
Paul thanks Jesus for the strength to do ministry, despite of his former life, Christ chose him and empowers him to preach good news. He received mercy and the grace of Jesus overflowed for him with the faith and love that are in Jesus.
He is strengthened for ministry because grace overflowed for Paul. He is the chief of sinners, yet mercy and grace come to show God’s perfect patience toward those that believe in him for eternal life.
Paul’s story is our story isn’t it? I know it is mine. The murderous rebel I was and in my ignorant unbelief, Jesus came and poured out grace on me to overflowing. Jesus came to save sinners.
The minute I start to get comfortable in my own saintly ability and begin to think that ministry might be done in my own strength, Paul recalibrate me to the truth. I am a sinner who swims in grace as Jesus empowers me for ministry and life.
I think my “machine” is running a little better now. And I hope yours is to.