Grace's Clarifying Perspective
The Apostle Paul had an amazing combination of humility and boldness. On the one hand, he had such a crushing awareness of his sin that he thought of himself as ‘the chief of sinners’ (1 Tim. 1:15). On the other hand, he had such absolute confidence in God that he was ready to go out and change the world by witnessing to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
No one had a deeper awareness of sin than Paul did. “The saying is trustworthy,” he said, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15). As far as Paul was concerned, he was a bigger sinner than anyone else in the world. Like the tax collector in the story that Jesus told, he saw himself as ‘the’ sinner. This kept him from thinking too highly of himself. He constantly saw his need for grace.
At the same time, no one was bolder than Paul in proclaiming the gospel. His awareness of sin did not stop him from serving the Lord, as if he was too unworthy to do anything for Christ and his Kingdom. Instead, Paul took exactly the opposite attitude: his personal experience of God’s grace for him in Jesus Christ gave him the confidence to face every danger in sharing the gospel.
The man was absolutely fearless. Consider what happened to him in Ephesus. There was a silversmith there who was angry with Paul for preaching the gospel. The more people believed in Jesus, the less they worshiped idols, which was bad for business if you happened to be marketing mental images of the goddess Artemis.
One of the silversmiths in Ephesus organized his fellow-craftsmen for labor action against the Christian church. Soon the city’s huge amphitheater was filled with thousands of angry Ephesians. It was an absolute mob scene. For two hours straight, they shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:34). Yet the moment Paul heard what was going on at the amphitheater, he wanted to go there and preach the gospel. The situation was so dangerous that most people would have considered it a good time to get out of town. Yet to Paul, it seemed like a perfect witnessing opportunity.
The only thing that enables us to see ourselves the way we really are – the way that God wants us to see ourselves – is the grace God has for us in Jesus Christ. This perspective was Paul’s hope for the Romans, as it is the Holy Spirit’s hope for us. In our text this week from Romans 12:3, Paul provides the way this biblical dynamic can be our heart’s perspective.
Will you join us this week as we continue our study in the way that grace transforms our lives for the glory of God? Please take a moment and pray for yourself, your family, and your church. Pray that the Lord’s Spirit will work in our lives this week.
I hope you plan to join us for lunch immediately following our worship service. The church will provide the meat, drinks, and dinnerware. We ask you to bring your favorite side dish and dessert. You can sign up on our FB page – but if you don’t, please plan to come on anyway and join us.
Grace changes everything,