My plan, on Q Day, was to read all the way through 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus in the morning, and Owen’s Of Temptation in the afternoon. I succeeded at the latter. I failed miserably at the former. I actually didn’t even make it all of the way through 1 Timothy 1 – only the first 17 verses, in fact. I was led to spend a few minutes memorizing 1 Tim. 1:5 and then to think about it for a good hour (see yesterday’s post). I then read on a little further, and felt as though the Spirit was prompting me to memorize verses 12-17 as well.
It took me a bit longer to memorize those six verses, and it took me even longer to meditate on them thoroughly, which occupied me for the rest of the morning until lunch. What was so arresting to me about this passage is that I can read every word in the first person without imagination and with perfect authenticity:
“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 Ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.“
I now recite this passage every morning when I wake up, before I do anything else, as something of a spiritual autobiography, and as a confession of my brokenness and unworthiness, and as an act of thanksgiving for the ministry that has been given to me, and as worship of the One who has shown so much mercy.
The only problem with thinking of this passage as an autobiography is that this passage is not really about me. It’s not even about Paul. Ultimately, it is about the King of Ages. He is the protagonist. He is the character in the story who does everything good and everything of significance: giving strength, judging, appointing to service, granting mercy, overflowing grace, saving sinners, displaying perfect patience, and receiving glory.
So I sing, “To the King of Ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”