A Brilliant Display of His Perfect Patience
Pastor Ian reminds us that, like Paul, we have received mercy in order to demonstrate dependence on God, and to benefit others by displaying His perfect patience.
In our text this past Sunday, the Apostle Paul confidently declared the surprising reason a man like him had received mercy. According to 1 Timothy 1:16, it was so that “Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life".
But if this is also true for us, what does it mean? How ought we to live out this biblical assertion? I am convinced there are several implications for the people of God living in the 21st century.
1. If this is true, it means my culture has misinformed me. My culture has taught me that in order to achieve great things, I must learn to be strong and independent. It is a common saying among Westerners that we must 'pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps'. Bootstraps are leather loops that we would hook our fingers into as we pulled on our boots. It frankly never occurred to me that it was quite impossible to increase my distance from the ground by pulling on my own bootstraps. In truth no matter how hard we pull on bootstraps, gravity keeps us firmly planted in our boots and on the ground. Pulling oneself up by one's own bootstraps is an idiom designed to reinforce the cultural myth that I can achieve greatness by my own, autonomous merit.
In Matthew 18, Jesus’ disciples asked Him how they could become the greatest in His kingdom. His reply in verses 3-4 was, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, kingdom greatness is modelled by those who reject the myth of personal strength and daily reach up for the strong, dependable embrace of God.
Application Questions: How do I specifically model child-like dependence on God in my daily living? How do I specifically and intentionally reach up for His embrace?
2. If this is true, it means I ought to be comfortable with the shape He has given me. Rather than hide my imperfections, I ought to celebrate them as evidence of God’s mercy and grace.
The Apostle Paul opens 2 Corinthians 12 with the declaration that he intends to 'go on boasting', and then ends up 'boasting' about his weaknesses! Scholars debate over the specific nature of his 'thorn in the flesh', but no matter what it was, it was clearly used by God to reinforce Paul’s conviction that his life was to be a platform for God’s power, not his own personal competence. And so he declares, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (verse 9b)!
Application Questions: Do I hide my weaknesses or dare boast about them? How am I demonstrating God’s sufficient grace through my imperfections? Am I willing to trust Him to more than compensate for my weaknesses by filling me with His glorious power?
3. If this is true, it means we were not just saved for our own benefit. We were saved for the benefit of others. In other words, when God met Saul on the road to Damascus, He wasn’t just looking down on Saul. He was looking forward! He was looking forward to Lydia, to the Philippian jailer, to Timothy, and to you and me! And imagine this: there is someone in your life right now; someone in your circle of influence that God has ordained would turn to Him simply because they can see clear evidence of His perfect patience in you! It won’t be because you know all the Bible answers. It will simply be because your life is a brilliant display of God’s perfect patience!
Application Questions: Is there someone in my life to whom I need to go and say, “I was saved for you!”? How can I specifically and intentionally be a living, breathing billboard for the perfect patience of God?
So where do I begin to get help with this?
You may have a friend who is seeking. If so, share your story and let God’s patience be obvious in it. Then, there are two opportunities for you to accompany your friend to learn more:
- Sunday Mornings at 11:00 am, there is a “Seek and Discover” class for those who want to learn more about Christ. Check out the ministry guide for the detailed schedule.
- Tuesday Enquiry Group meets each week at 7:30pm in room 310. Why not bring your friend to hear more about the basics of the Christian Faith?