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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, December 26, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Timothy 1:15–17

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (NRSV)

“For you is born a Savior.” This good news the angels sang is the same song that filled the Apostle Paul’s heart with wonder: “For me?!”

In today’s text I find three urgent takeaways for my life. The first is that I am a sinner who needs to “be saved” from myself. “Christ came into the world to save sinners.” Each week in worship the Prayer of Confession is a moment of self-reflection when I ask God to show me my faults. Often I am clueless to them and have to step out of my spiritual narcissism. It is an urgent and sacred moment for me to say “Yes!” to this good news and not push it away.

The second takeaway is that I am an example that can give hope to others. “The reason I received mercy is so Jesus Christ may be seen as having the utmost patience, even toward the foremost of sinners.” Now, here’s a twist: we have been given the privilege of leading others to Christ, not through our spiritual and moral successes, but through our failures. Only the God of grace could dream up something like that!

The final takeaway I find here is that theology matters. Paul wrote to this pastor of the church in Ephesus with another urgent mission: to distinguish “the one true God” from the many superstitions and fanatical sects that surrounded the Christians. How do we know a “false god” and a “sick religion” when we see one? Any that deny that the “one true God” is a God of mercy who gives new life and joy to those who practice sacrificial love. I hope I can be such an example, with the help of other people of faith.

Dear God, give me the humility I need when my eyes are opened to my sins. Give me the vision I need to know you as the one who has paid a great price so I could be cleansed. Give me the faith I need to believe that you can use both my virtues and my failures to point others to Christ. And to you be the glory, now and forever. Amen.

Written by David Handley

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