September 12

1 Timothy 1:12-14

“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.” vss. 13b-14

While some question whether Paul actually wrote the letters to Timothy that are attributed to him, there’s little doubt that they give us valuable information about his background and call. Because of his strong religious convictions he had been an active persecutor of Christians and had participated in the stoning death of Stephen, the first martyr. Later, he doesn’t excuse or deny his behavior, nor is he paralyzed by guilt–he says he had acted in ignorance and unbelief. Change came for him through an encounter, not with an angry God, but with the loving and merciful Christ. He experienced transforming grace and became an active servant of the gospel. Some of us have had similar experiences. Like Paul we’ve grown up with a narrow interpretation of scripture that reeks of legalism. We’re quick to condemn and zealous in pointing out the errors of others–and then one day the living Christ emerges and the scales fall from our eyes. Our hearts are opened to others and grace overflows in our daily living as we reach out in love to everyone we meet. As we grow older it’s almost embarrassing to consider the rigidity and ignorance of our youthful days. We were so confident and certain–we had all the answers. What a relief it is to put those certainties aside and learn to trust totally in our merciful Lord!

Thought for the Day: When have I acted in ignorance?

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