"An Honest Reflection"
While we will examine the larger passage of verses 12-20, we want to have an honest reflection on what it means to be saved. Saved from what and to what? Then realize some people try to mess up your salvation.
An Honest Reflection
(1 Tim. 1:12-20)
A. Listen to these verses (1 Cor. 12:4-7). Look at that last verse, “To EACH is given the manifestation of the Spirit FOR the common good.” Do you believe that? I want to start right here today asking you if you believe that God has empowered you with something of value from Holy Spirit that is helpful to this body.
B. Has God himself placed you here, drawn you to this local congregation, in order to help this local body become more than what it was before you came? That’s a lot to chew on.
C. Here is the problem. To many Christians feel as though they simply exist. I come, I participate, I help out in a few areas and then I have my real life outside of this local church family. Part of the reason some Christians feel that way is they don’t believe God. (No, they wouldn’t put it that way, but the reality shows that belief – or lack thereof.) They at least struggle with verses like this one in 1 Corinthians. They don’t see themselves as empowered by the Holy Spirit on any level, let alone to the degree of being an asset to this congregation as God’s servant.
D. Why is this concept of empowerment by God and usefulness in God’s kingdom so difficult? I believe I know at least part of the answer…let me explain.
I. A Negative View of Timothy
A. As Paul writes to Timothy, he does so with the need to encourage him. Timothy is a “young man.” We don’t really know what that means. But what we do know, is that a little later (4:12), Paul will have to tell Timothy, “Let no one look down upon you (despise you) because of your youth.” When you are young, and you have to become a church leader, credibility is not simply given. It is earned. Sometimes that credibility takes years. Timothy had a job to do in an established congregation and need to also have the authority to do his work. His being young hurt his credibility.
B. We also know that Timothy tended to be timid, or shy about confrontation and Paul would have to tell him in a second letter that, “God did not give us a spirit of fear/timidity, but of power, love and self-control.” Timothy was not bold.
C. Now put these two things together and place this young, generally less bold young man, in an established congregation that had leaders who wanted people to follow them and you have a recipe for trouble. Timothy had to learn to see himself differently.
D. But Timothy was not alone. He had this letter from Paul to use as authority. And Timothy also had God. Timothy may have forgotten how God uses people for His purpose. Timothy needed to rely upon the power and strength which God had given him. Timothy was charged by God through Paul for ministry. It is time he took that mantle and did his ministry.
E. I am reminded of the story of Moses at the burning bush who simply didn’t want to go back to Egypt and came up with every excuse to not take up the leadership role God had given him. What Moses forgot is that power is not simply from within, real power, the greatest power, is to be empowered with the Spirit of God. Once Moses took hold of God’s power, his leadership would become one of the greatest of all time. What about you?
II. Honest Reflection
A. Paul gave Timothy an honest reflection of his past for a reason. Timothy needed to understand that Paul was not some super human Christian that was simply better than everyone else. It was not his own power or might that allowed him to be the apostle, evangelist and teacher that he was. Our text helps us to see that Paul was not afraid to tell his own story, his sinful past, and what the power of God has done and is doing in his life.
B. Read 1 Tim. 1:12-15. Paul’s strength is in Jesus. Jesus enabled, strengthen and empowered Paul for the work of ministry. Not by Paul’s own power, but the power of God at work him. And Paul understood the height that Jesus lifted him. Paul looked at his spiritual past and saw he was the chief of sinners. He describes himself as a blasphemer, persecutor, insolent opponent of Jesus. Now that is not low self-esteem. That is an honest reflection of life as a sinner before Jesus took hold of Paul for a greater good.
C. Take a honest look at your past (and maybe, for some, your present). Paul let Timothy know that a person can have a past but also have a great present and future. Every person in here has something in their past that they don’t particularly want the world to know. And sometimes, we are so worried about our past that it affects our present. Timothy needed to realize that just as Paul was forgiven and used by God, Timothy could be used in a powerful way also. He needed to accept the truth of who he is in Christ, not who he is in the eyes of church people.
D. Don ruined his life. He had so much going for him, a promising career that paid well, a wife who everyone loved and life was good – except Don had other issues that no one knew about. After a time, Don left his wife, turned to a life of sin and ruined everything. He ended up with full blown AIDS and would end up dying from it. But as he got worse, he was seeing a counselor who told him he needed to go back to church, end his life surrounded by people of faith, and admit to his past. He couldn’t do it. He knew what everyone would say and they were right.
E. He got up the courage to go to the preacher’s office and unload his life of sin. He knew that would scare the preacher and he could at least say to his counselor that he tried. But instead of being pushed away, the preacher told him to come worship that Sunday and tell the church all that he just told him. Don said he almost laughed out loud. Don went to worship that week. He sat in the back and cried. He missed the singing, the communion, the fellowship and he knew he was too bad to have it back.
F. The second week he was there and this time he decided that if people really did know him, he would not be accepted, but he couldn’t live without God and die. So he went forward at the end of the sermon, shared his story with the help of the preacher and hung his head in shame. Before the story of his past was done, several people came forward, sat down with him and held his hand or shoulder. At the end, many came up and welcomed him home. How? Why? He was the chief of sinners? The answer was clear, Jesus came for people just like him because each person there was no better. And, by the way, people just like you and me.
A. So you have past? So do I, so did Paul, so do many others in this room. So you know are hurting inside? I hear you. I hurt inside often as I think about my life. But Paul tells Timothy that Jesus saves and empowers us to do the work of ministry.
B. Listen to these verses (1 Cor. 12:4-7). Look at that last verse, “To EACH is given the manifestation of the Spirit FOR the common good.” Do you believe that?
C. Can we have your gift that God has given to you? Will you share yourself with us in a powerful way so that God is glorified and this church can grow?
D. Maybe you are here, and your heart is in pain, because as of right now you are still lost in your sin. You have not given your life to Jesus and been baptized into his body. You know you are living separated from the power of the Holy Spirit. Let me tell you, Jesus came for you. If we can witness your birth in Christ by helping you to enter into his kingdom by being immersed into Jesus, then come as we stand and sing.