“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope…
“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 1:1,12-17
In sovereign mercy, God reached into the rebel heart of a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent, and made him an apostle. Saul became Paul. One who had not received mercy became one who had, gloriously. And through that man, his transformation and ensuing ministry, God’s perfect patience and overflowing grace were put on display. (Acts 9:1-5; 13:9; 1 Peter 2:9-10)
We never know who is watching, who might hold past sins and unpleasant behaviors against our reputation, who might need a jolt of encouragement. When the Lord takes hold of our hearts and moves in, He should be visible for all to see. What do my countenance, disciplines, activities, and habits display?
Since the Lord’s grace has overflowed for me in faith and love, how amply are are these graces flowing forth from me? As He sanctifies and changes me with patience and care, am I displaying, in increased measure, His character, wisdom, and mercy to others? What mark do constant thankfulness and exalted praise to God leave on my daily interactions and efforts? What evidence do I leave in a room, a conversation, a business transaction, that I am no longer my own but His, a child who bears Christ’s name and nature? (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Galatians 2:20)
Consecrating ourselves to the Lord allows His beauty, power, and grace to abound in and out of us, so He is seen, desired, and magnified.
“Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee.
Take my silver and my gold;
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it thine;
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee.” ~Frances Ridley Havergal (1874)
O Lord, never to me, but to Your name be the glory, so all I encounter see Your steadfast love and faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1)