1 Timothy

words of encouragement can a father give to his son as he approaches manhood?
While not a new idea, upon completion of his ninth grade, I took my son on a prayer
retreat, just the two of us. Although it was not a long trip, it was a significant
one. It was my opportunity to encourage him, to praise him, to pray for him and
to “pass the blessing” that my father had given to me. While together
I shared this passage and these thoughts.

I was!

describes himself as the chief among sinners. He reminds young Timothy — who
was like his son in the ministry — that he (Paul) was formerly a blasphemer,
a persecutor, and an arrogant man. What horrible attributes these are. To be a
blasphemer meant to bear “stupid injury” in the old Greek. Paul had
been guilty of bringing injury to people and to Christ’s work that now he realized
was based on ignorance and made no sense at all. Paul also says he was one who
pursued “with a vengeance”, a persecutor. Further, he claims he was
arrogant, one who was proud of his state. As Saul of Tarsus there is no real account
of how his sins wreaked havoc on the young Christian world.

see Paul’s testimony about who he was, is really my testimony about who I was.
Oh, the list of sins may be different. I never had anyone beaten or put to death.
Nonetheless, there were times that my sins did just as much damage. My sins made
me just as guilty. My sins made me need a savior just as much as Paul.

I want you to understand is that without Christ we really are nothing. Truly,
we have all sinned and regardless of the sin, we still are in need of the Savior.

He Did!

Paul moves from who he was to what a great thing God had done for him. “I
received mercy,” he declares, “and the grace of our Lord overflowed.”
Even knowing who he was and his reputation for disaster, I can not imagine how
he must of felt when he discovered that mercy and grace.

I can tell you is how I felt when I discovered that God loved me enough to cover
my sins with that same mercy and grace. I discovered that God’s grace is sufficient
for all. I discovered that His mercy is complete. Never have I felt so unworthy,
so humbled by His presence. Fall prostrate before Him? I tell you flat on the
floor was not enough. I wanted to peel up the carpet. I wanted to be as low at
the foot of the cross as I could be.

because of His grace, because of His mercy, He said, “Get up!” He reminded
me that He did not send His son to put me down, but to pick me up! In that moment
I knew I really was standing on holy ground. I remembered my dad singing an old
song with the words, “What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.”
That’s exactly what He did for me – covered who I was, what I had been, and all
the wrong I ever thought about with the blood of His son. What mercy and grace!

I became!

at the life Paul lived after he met Christ. In this passage he declares God made
him an example. What a difference. One day mounting an offensive against Christianity
and the next day carrying the banner of Christ high. When I consider what Paul
went through. He saw the world turn against him. Those that had promoted him now
wanted to kill him. Ridiculed, beaten and imprisoned, still he sang praises to
God behind bars. Did he make any more errors in his life? Absolutely. But, he
was always striving to finish that race of faith.

is what I have striven to be, an example. Make any mistakes? Absolutely. But,
I pray that is what people see in me. I pray they see I’m still running the race.
Our family sees us closer than anyone else. They know are mistakes first hand.
But, may the patience of God be seen in me!

probably felt alone and deserted as Paul had left him in Ephesus while he went
to Macedonia. He was young in the ministry, but had to face false doctrines and
contentious people. Paul offered this testimony, his autobiography, as an encouragement
to young Timothy.

I have offered to my son my testimony, my autobiography, to encourage him. You
see in the world where he lives, he will face many false doctrines and contentious
people. He will fall more than once. But, may he always be running the race of
faith. Even so, in your life people are watching. Will they see the patience of
God? Will they see one who is running the race of faith? Write your own autobiography.
Take a look at who you were. Take a look at what He has done. And, become all
that He desires in you. (John D. Burke)


brief provided by: John D. Burke, Senior Consultant, Church
Fund Raising Services, Lifeway Church Resources, Nashville, TN

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