Mercy Requires High Standards
Lord, restore my vision and empower my resolve to live as Your obedient follower.
1 Timothy 1:12-20
Consider: "God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you there. He wants you to be just like Jesus" (Max Lucado). Experiencing grace and mercy can help make this happen.
There are some who think that to show mercy requires a lowering of standards or an ignoring of the truth. But not Paul. He admits that he "was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man" (13), and he makes no attempt at self-justification. To the contrary, he brings Jesus Christ to the center (12), recognizing that in Christ he was forgiven and transformed (14). He was truly shown grace and mercy (13).
In order to fully experience grace, it is necessary to raise the standards, not to lower them. The problem is that no one can live by high standards. The point is that the person can be transformed by Jesus Christ's grace. Grace does not keep the person in the same condition. Rather, it takes the individual out of the grip of standards through a process of transformation (15-16).
Paul is expecting of Timothy, a church leader, to keep high standards as he shows grace (18-20). To stand firm in his responsibility, Timothy needed to fight (18). This fight can be seen in two dimensions: One is to remember the truth personally or in community (18). The second dimension is more proactive, namely "holding on to faith and a good conscience" (19). To be responsible is to take initiative in applying systems of faith and value external to the individual that will lead to life.
But there are the blasphemers, the ones for whom all is about personal opinion and personal desires. They live ruled by personal preferences and even justify their conducts by any means, including lies and deceit (20). When Christians become like the surrounding culture, standards are lowered and true mercy and grace are not shown. We are not exercising grace when we become complacent with the culture and approve any behavior under the excuse of "being loving."
Apply: How can your church "pour grace abundantly" (14) upon everyone in society? How can you show grace to others?
Loving Father, I thank You for showing me Your grace and mercy. I want be merciful toward others, as Jesus was.
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