I woke up yesterday at 5 am. I was actively engaged in ministry by 6 am. I finished my last bible study at 10:15 pm. I went home exhausted and collapsed on the bed. As I laid in bed, I started counting the hours of my work week. 13 Hours on Sunday, 9 hours on Monday, 12 hours on Tuesday, etc. As I laid in bed exhausted and inches away from sleep, I realized that it is all worth it, because Jesus is all worth it. Although last night was a good day, I have had many others when my exhaustion did not turn into praise, but bitterness. How do we guard our hearts from bitterness and keep them filled with joy as we give ourselves for others? Paul said, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” (Philippians 2:17-18) Paul was being emptied and spent for the gospel and he rejoiced. And he called the church to rejoice with him. So how do we give ourselves and yet do it with joy?
Remember the Delight of Your Service (1.12a)
First, we always have to remember to work to delight in the great privilege it is to serve. Paul was writing to a young pastor, Timothy, who was dealing with confrontation of false teachers and others questioning his competency because of his youthfulness. And Paul reminds Timothy to delight from his own example, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service.” Paul was thankful for Jesus Christ because Jesus had appointed him to service. Paul knew that not everyone had his opportunity. It was a privilege to serve Jesus Christ. It was a gift to serve.
When you are struggling in bitter service, remember that you have been given the opportunity to serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Jesus has appointed you the privilege to serve him. Delight in that gift. Let us never forsake it.
Remember the Depths of Your Sin (1.12b-13)
One of the ways we can delight in our service for the Lord to remember where we were before the Lord and where we would be without the Lord. Paul remembers the depths of his sin. He remembered all that he did in rebellion against the Lord. And remember Paul’s motives may have been pure. He thought he was working for God in trying to squash the heretical uprising of this Jewish sect of “The Way.” Listen to how Paul remembered his sin, “though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent.” Paul did not sugarcoat his past. He was honest with the depths of his sin.
Beloved, there will always be shame over past sin. There will always be regret and remorse of our sin. And even though there is shame, there is never despair. Paul’s confession of his former sin highlights his trust in the gospel. One of the challenges of true community is admitting our sin and struggles. We do not want others to know the depth of our depravity. And we do not have to tell everyone the depth of our sin, but we must always remember that God knows the depth. God knows the depth and he still came for you.
Remember the Depths of God’s Mercy (1.14-15)
God’s mercy is always greater than God’s sin. Richard Sibbes has said, “Christ’s way is first to wound then to heal.” We will never appreciate the depths of God’s mercy until we realize the depth of our sin. And yet, when we see the depth of sin the joy becomes even greater. Paul understood the depths of sin and mercy. Paul continues,
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. (1 Timothy 1:13-15)
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Who did Jesus come into the world to save? Sinners. What kind of sinners? The worst kind of sinners. All kinds of sinners.
Do you ever feel you are outside of God’s grace? Do you ever feel your sin is so great that there is no one God would forgive you? Maybe you feel that way because people haven’t forgiven you or you haven’t forgiven people. Whatever the reason why you doubt God’s ability to forgive your sin: The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. God’s word is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. Do not believe the lie, but trust in the truth. You are a great sinner, but Jesus is an even greater Savior.
Paul called himself the foremost sinner. He was the worst. A murderer. An enemy of God’s people. A commander in the army of darkness. An enemy of the cross. The worst. Jesus Christ came to save the “Paul’s” of the world. Jesus Christ came for the worst.
Remember the Display of God’s Mercy (1.16-17)
Paul rejoiced in his own salvation in the cross, but he also rejoiced in another reason. 1 Timothy 1:16-17,
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 1:16-17)
God saved Paul as an example of his patience. If God could save his greatest enemy and appoint him to his service, what does that say about what God could do for you? God saved Paul as an example for all those who doubt that God’s mercy is big enough to save and strong enough to cover the worse of our sin. Oh friends, rejoice!! God’s mercy will prevail. Thomas Watson writes in All Things Good,
Are we under the guilt of sin? There is a promise, “The Lord merciful and gracious” (Exodos 34:6), where God as it were, puts on His glorious embroidery, and holds out the golden scepter, to encourage poor trembling sinners to come to Him.” God is more willing to pardon than to punish. Mercy does more multiply in Him than sin in us. Mercy is His nature… He shows mercy, not because we deserve mercy, but because He delights in mercy.
God is more willing to pardon than to punish. He delights in mercy. And because he delights in mercy, we should all join the chorus of those who have experienced that mercy, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.” Praise His Holy Name.
So how do we continue to delight in our service for the Lord? Delight in the depths of our God of mercy. Delight in the depths of your sin that he has saved you and delight in the depths of the mercy He has given to you. Wake tomorrow and go to bed tonight delighting in the depths!!