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. [1 timothy 1:12-14]


God uses sinful and broken people.


this is good news for all of us. paul is not only listing out some of his sins, but describing himself as a person of these qualities. he was a blasphemer; one who spoke evil of God (as a hateful persecutor of the church, he spoke against Jesus, who is God, and intentionally quieted the gospel that God was sending and speaking through the followers of Christ). he was a persecutor; a man who willfully caused harm to the followers of Christ, attempting to use their punishment as a message of fear to any who would believe. he was an insolent opponent; not one who would only speak his opinion when asked, but vehemently seeking out and crushing this new truth about God’s Son, a servant of satan himself.


but God had a plan for paul. a plan that had nothing to do with his degree of sinfulness. a plan that had been set in motion long before paul even took his first breath. a plan of salvation, and a plan of good works that had been carefully crafted for him to walk in. [eph 2:10] and so Jesus called him out of darkness and into his marvelous light!


why did God save paul?


but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. [vs 16]


as followers of Christ, and as those who believe in him for eternal life, paul is our undeniable example of the patience of Christ! we can take such encouragement as people who also were completely opposed to Christ in our own state of unbelief. we are now judged faithful because of the blood of Christ, just as paul was. we are now appointed to the service of Christ, despite our former ignorance, just as paul was. and the grace of our Lord overflowed for us with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus, just as it did for paul.


because of this, we are strong ambassadors for Christ. we have a story of sin to salvation, showing his incredible mercy.  we have a story of darkness to daylight, showing his power to save. and we have a story of faithless enemy to faithful servant, showing his own faithfulness to his promise to transform.


we can only see his mercy as deeply as we see our own depravity. we only perceive his cost as well as we perceive our debt. you and i did not come cheap. Jesus gave up everything to show the depth of his love for us. God did what was hard so that in Christ Jesus he could give you every spiritual blessing, which is what he delights to do.


he who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? [romans 8:32]


today, in the presence of a faithful, strong, and merciful Savior, thank him for revealing the depths of his love. thank him for putting you to good use, not putting you on the b team, not giving you time on the bench according to your list of sins, but judging you faithful because of the blood of his Son. see where he is leading you to serve him, and get in the game!


for while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. for one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [romans 5:6-8]


~ arwen eastman