Paul joins a long list of biblical characters who engage in kingdom purposes despite their inadequacies. In this letter to Timothy, we read a portion of Paul’s personal story. He tells of God’s mercy flowing into his life, forgiving his wicked past and equipping him for holy service. It reminds us that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future!
And, yes, God calls even us, in spite of our weaknesses and flaws—often through them. Consider the credibility of a reformed addict who can lead another to recovery because “she has been there.” When we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, we usually seek the counsel of someone who understands what we are going through. As human beings, we rarely share our troubles with those who don’t seem to have any troubles!
Our human yearning for mercy takes a variety of forms. A young pastor serving a church that he described as a “wonderfully volatile congregation” recalls his frequent prayer, “Lord, you got me into this, now please get me through it!” He realized both his inadequacy and his dependence on divine mercy and grace. Many who may have a strong sense of “call” occasionally share the age-old query of Moses, who essentially protested, “Why me, Lord?”
God’s mercy inspires and emboldens our own. The dictionary defines mercy as the compassionate treatment of those in distress. Like Paul, we are encouraged to show the same mercy to others that God showers on us. We set aside our feelings of unworthiness (“I’m not good enough or wise enough or talented enough”) so God’s grace can flow through us without restriction or excuses. The One who calls us to loving service will empower us to do it.
What specific act of mercy and compassion can you offer another today?
The apparent message of Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 is total despair, but verse 27 offers a soft note of grace. God’s redemptive purposes for the people will not ultimately be thwarted. Psalm 14 suggests that foolishness and perversity characterize all humanity, but God can gather from among sinful humankind a community of people who will nd their refuge in God. In First Timothy, the writer points to his own life as an example of God’s ability to reclaim and redeem persons. Luke 15 suggests how far God is willing to go to reclaim the lost. The par- ables of the lost sheep and the lost coin portray God as remark- ably and even recklessly active in pursuit of wayward persons.
• Read Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28. When have you made a mess of things and suffered the consequences? What invitation surfaced from that situation?
• Read Psalm 14. How do you feel when you are out of touch with God’s call? What practices or disciplines do you employ to recognize God’s faithfulness?
• Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17. What can you do today that will show mercy and compassion to another?
• Read Luke 15:1-10. When have you felt God pursuing you? How did this feel like a gracious invitation rather than con- demnation?
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