Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 19 (24) (September 11, 2016)
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
1 Timothy 1:12-17 | New International Version (NIV)
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Mercy – compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Over the next few weeks we will be looking at some select passages in both Paul’s letters to Timothy. This week we look at the theme of mercy. Last week I wrote about receiving and giving grace. We often think of grace and mercy as the same thing, but they are different.
Here’s the definition of grace: the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
So as you can see grace and mercy go together, but they are different. God showed mercy when he forgave us our sins – we could have been punished form them, but he showed us his mercy because of his grace – God’s free and unmerited favor. There is nothing that we could do to earn salvation. In fact, everything that we did earns us death. The Bible tells us the wages of sin (what we earn) is death, but the free gift of God (grace) is eternal life. Grace and mercy go well together. I am eternally grateful and thankful that God forgave my sins – I like the fact that Paul said that he acted in ignorance toward Jesus – persecuting his people – and yet Jesus showed great mercy. When we think of God’s great mercy, we need to think of his great patience with us. Paul mentions that toward the end of our passage. Paul considers himself the worst of sinners – not worthy of what Jesus did for him. I think we all need to think that way. The hymn writer Isaac Watts wrote:
Alas and did my Saviour bleed
And did my Sovereign die
Would he devote that Sacred Head
For such a worm as I.
I know thinking of ourselves as worms when it comes to being sinners isn’t popular today, but when we do, it really reminds us of God’s great love, God’s amazing grace, God’s great mercy that was poured out on us. I’m reminded of another song (At Calvary) mercy there was great and grace was free – pardon there was multiplied to me…
No wonder God is so worthy of our praise. I love how Paul finishes out this section of his letter in thanks to God – when we think of God’s great mercy…
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever! Amen!