Our Lectio Divina for today:
I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now He shows me off—evidence of His endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting Him forever. Deep honor and bright glory to the King of All Time – One God, Immortal, Invisible, ever and always. Oh, yes! 1st Timothy 1: 15b-17 (MsgB)
There have been many throughout church history who have looked at Paul, the apostle, and believed him to be nothing less than a super saint. Indeed, it is quite impressive when one looks at the life and ministry of this amazing man of God. Not only did Paul write a good portion of what we, today, call the New Testament (of the 27 NT books, 13 are letters composed by him), he also is credited with being the Church’s first missionary, taking the Good News of Jesus far beyond the sacred walls of Jerusalem and the fishing villages of Galilee. Within thirty years of the death and resurrection of Christ, Paul’s three missionary journeys covered much of Asia Minor and Greece, planting at least fourteen new churches along the way!
Yet, despite all the amazing accomplishments credited to Paul, isn’t it interesting to find this same man speaking so lowly of himself as he writes to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy? You see, Paul fully understood, as we discussed last time, the lowliness of his credentials, especially when compared to the incomparable worth and value of the One who had called him and sent him out on this God-mission to the world.
(I’m) “Public Sinner Number One,” Paul writes. “Someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy.” In his letter to his good friends in Rome, Paul spells out more details behind this honest confession, admitting openly that his sinful nature certainly did not die when he came to Christ, but continues to haunt him on a regular basis…
I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 7: 18a-25 MsgB
You see, in today’s culture, a public celebrity such as Paul would do everything in their power to hide from view their dark side. Publicists and media spokespeople are hired as spin doctors, covering over any aspect of life that might seem unattractive or repugnant to an admiring audience. Isn’t it intriguing that Paul takes a completely opposite viewpoint when talking about himself? Rather than excusing his shortcomings or trying to hide his sinfulness, Paul goes right for the jugular and openly admits that he is unable, in his own strength, to control his fleshly nature.
But, as you can see from his writings to both his friends in Rome and to Timothy, Paul doesn’t stop there, but he goes on to proclaim the mystery of how the sinful, yet redeemed lives of Christ-followers are pre-destined to become a living proof to God’s endless patience in a world where grace and mercy are rarely displayed. Now, as I see it, that’s good news! Very good news.
Kalós News? Don’t you think?
My prayer: Jesus, I stand amazed at the endless patience of God, especially when I see how merciful You are when I, like Paul, continue do those things I ought not to do, long after I confess my need for deliverance. Indeed, deep honor and bright glory to the King of All Time – One God, Immortal, Invisible, ever and always. Oh, yes! Amen.
My questions to ponder: So, as a man or woman of the cloth, how am I trying to portray myself to others? Am I trying to convince those around me that I’m a good person with my life in complete control? Or, am I choosing to travel the same road of honesty that Paul journeyed…being totally open and forthcoming about my on-going sinful nature, while directing people to trust instead in God and His endless patience and amazing grace?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
In this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure, we explore the kalós*, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. We invite you to come along with us, bookmarking this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing.
As you go through this blog series, we also suggest that you use the ancient tool of Lectio Divina as you approach each scriptural text we give you in this blog. Lectio Divina is a slow, intentional reading of the Holy Scriptures. Take your time as you ponder the text slowly, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word for you as you read. Ask the Master as you read, “Jesus, what in this passage do I need to hear today?”
*So, what is kalós?
Kalós comes from a New Testament Greek word which simply means “good.” The apostle Paul, when writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, decided to combine this common adjective, kalós, with a second Greek word, parathéké, a noun which means a deposit or trust committed to one’s charge. As a result, the apostle ends up with one, very powerful phrase! A command that both Timothy, and you and I, truly need to take note of as we continue this ancient work of serving Christ and His Church! “Guard this kalós (this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure) placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2nd Timothy 1: 14