Mercy, Fools, and Losers

Written by Dawn Rutan

Since Pastor Matt is on a well-deserved vacation this week, I wrote the following “recap,” hitting the highlights of both Sunday school and the sermon plus a few thoughts of my own.

This Sunday in Sunday school we were discussing 1 Timothy 1:12-17. Verse 13b in the ESV says,

“I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.”

Other translations say “I obtained mercy,” which seems to me to be a poor translation. Mercy is not something you can obtain like a 4.0 GPA or a rental car. Mercy is by definition something that is unearned. You can’t buy it, work for it, or even repay it. All you can do is ask for and accept it when it comes. Mercy is God’s gift to give as He pleases.

Verse 16 takes it a step further,

“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost [sinner], Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.”

God doesn’t grant mercy and save people because we are so deserving, or because He feels sorry for us, or because He’s lonely and wants companionship. He saves us because it glorifies Him. It magnifies His love and dominion. Everything He does is for His glory alone.

Amazingly, God doesn’t stop at granting us mercy and forgiveness. He goes on to give us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Other verses give even broader descriptions:

  • “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
  • “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32).
  • “For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

God is the Creator and Owner of all things, and in Christ we have access to all that is His. But again, there is nothing we can do to earn it, pay for it, or lay claim to it except through the blood of Jesus Christ. As we were reminded in the sermon from 1 Corinthians 3:18-23, God has redeemed us and restored us to our proper Owner. This world doesn’t own us, and God doesn’t exist to serve our purposes. God owns us, our lives, and our church, and the world exists to glorify Him. Everything of value is ours in Christ, but we are recipients, not achievers.

We have no reason for pride or judgmentalism. Secular learning and achievements have no lasting value and can’t even be compared to the depths of wisdom that come from the Holy Spirit. Our life in Christ and the things that we value because of Him won’t make sense to the rest of the world, but that shouldn’t bother us. We may be seen as fools, but we know the truth because we know the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

As Daniel Hochhalter wrote in Losers Like Us: Redefining Discipleship After Epic Failure:

“Where we see a lack of experience and polish, God sees leadership potential. Similarly, human credentials were notably lacking in the twelve losers on whom Jesus built his church. What made them world-changers was not their credentials, but simply their willingness to follow him… So why has Jesus always, then and now, chosen losers to lead the kingdom? I think there are four main reasons, all closely related: teachableness, lack of ego, brokenness, and empathy. These are the areas in which losers truly excel.”

Because of these truths we should be grateful for God’s saving grace, humble recipients of His mercy, and willing witnesses to His glory.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine… Because you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life… Everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made… You are My witnesses” (Isaiah 43:1, 4, 7, 10).

 

© 2016 Dawn Rutan. The views stated may or may not reflect the beliefs of the pastor or leadership of Dulin’s Grove Church.