“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. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were 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.” 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Paul never forgot who he had been or what he had done, and how the immeasurable grace of God in Christ Jesus had swallowed both. As he writes to his spiritual son Timothy, having matured over many years as an apostle through faithful serving and powerful teaching, he still considers himself the foremost of sinners, and thus magnifies the splendor of his Savior’s patience and mercy. The more he says of his former life without Christ, the more he is overwhelmed with the Lord’s bountiful grace to him, and the more praise wells up within. He spills over with the benediction of glory to his King eternal. (Philippians 3:4-8)
Paul was a remarkable orator, a gifted church-builder, and much-loved. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews, with every credential a traditional Jew could want or boast. He easily could have let his human greatness go to his head and infiltrate his perspective on ministry and relationships. But Paul was in love with Jesus. He never got over the extent to which Jesus stooped to save him, and he wanted to honor Him with his life. (Acts 20:35-38; 2 Corinthians 11:17-31)
As we go about our work, how often do we remind ourselves who the Lord is and what He has done for us? A regular and deliberate appointment early each day will set our minds on Him. Time on our knees in humble meditation helps us recall our sinful nature- our bent to selfishness, impatience, ugly thoughts- and proceeds to confession. Time of thanksgiving and praise lifts our sights upward to the Giver of every gift, and fills our hearts with gratitude.
Maybe we recite a familiar chorus or hymn, a verse or passage. “Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul, thank you, Lord, for making me whole, thank You, Lord, for giving to me my great salvation so rich and free.” Would we tuck in these Godward thoughts early and often to permeate our thinking and doing through our hours? (1 Thessalonians 5:18; James 1:17)
“When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.” ~Isaac Watts (1707)
Lord, let me never get over Your redeeming grace and love.