Be Content With Who You Are

Read: 1 Timothy 6:1-10

In Desiderata of Love, Max Ehrmann writes, “Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.” In this poem, he speaks of quiet contentment. This is not to say never change jobs or explore career options. But it is to say that God can use you and is using you (if you let him) in whatever position in life you are in. Being content with who you are and your position goes beyond career into all aspects of life. But it starts with understanding whose you are not what you do as your identity.

When your identity is rooted in Christ and you live that out in whatever arena you work in, it matters very little then what you do. One person I heard speak counselled young people not to become pastors in churches, because we have enough pastors in churches. He said we need more pastors in corporations, and hospitals, and schools, and in government positions. This might not be a mainstream opinion, but the point is congruent with what Paul is saying here, that you shouldn’t change positions because you become a believer, you should use your identity as rooted in Christ regardless of your position.

What Paul talks about in 1 Timothy 6:1-10 is a group of people in Timothy’s church who were trying to use the Gospel to gain themselves higher positions and riches. Not only does this not work out for most people, but it is counter to the Gospel which they were trying to purport. Jesus says, “Pick up your cross and follow me.” He doesn’t say, “You will get rich quick if you follow me.” He was no pyramid schemer!

So if you are a believer, let your identity be rooted first and foremost in Christ, regardless of what you do. And practice contentment in your place in life, not trying to gain wealth. Try amassing spiritual growth! How different would the Western world look if that were our goal?!

Question:

  1. What does contentment look like in your present position in life? Do you practice contentment now?
  2. How do riches and wealth lure/tempt you?
  3. What are some ways to avoid falling into these traps?
  4. How can we persevere in our faith amidst our present culture?

Guard Your Leaders

By Grant Vissers

Read: 1 Timothy 5:17-20

I feel a little awkward writing my thoughts on this particular passage. Especially when Paul writes, “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching.” I don’t disagree with him, however, there have been far too many, “health, wealth, and prosperity gospel” preachers leverage Bible passages like this for personal gain. Pastors who do that drive me crazy and I don’t think they’re worth listening to. Some even have personal private jets that they’ve somehow worked into their, “philosophy of ministry.” (If a picture is worth a thousand words, just know that I’m doing air quotes around those words.) Like I said, if your pastor has a personal private jet, I might be looking for a new pastor.

And yet, Paul still wrote those words. Here’s the thing, I think Paul knew how hard ministry is. Paul traveled from town to town preaching the gospel and spreading the good news and in return he was booted out of cities, thrown into jail, beaten and stoned. In one instance he was stoned, drug out of the city and left for dead. All for preaching about Jesus. (Acts 14, check it out) Paul was acutely aware of the harsh realities preachers were up against and so Paul was adamant that churches should guard their leaders. While Paul went from church to church raising support so he could last even one more day, he wanted pastors and preachers to be freed up to do their most important task: preaching, without worrying about where their next meal was going to come from.

Equally as important is not to condemn a leader on a false accusation. “Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses.” How many leaders have we seen in our time lose their influence and leadership because of moral failure? In my estimation, too many to count. Both inside and outside the church, leaders seem to be disproportionately affected by scandals and failures. Perhaps its simply because leaders have a public role and so everything they do is examined by the court of public opinion, but I think there is more to it than that. I think the evil one knows how to bring down a leader. I think the evil one knows there is nothing more destructive for a church than false accusations. So again, Paul say, “Guard your leaders.”

Now, at this point you might be thinking, “Looks like leaders have it pretty good,” but there is a second warning in this section of Paul’s letter. This time it is directed at the leaders. “Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others.” Leaders don’t get carte blanche when it comes to power, authority, decision making etc. Too many leaders have abused their authority and used it to do unspeakable things. To those leaders Paul’s warning is loud, reprimand them in front of the whole church. This is what you call accountability. In Paul’s economy leaders live public lives and are accountable in public ways. Anyone wishing to become a leader should first check their heart and ask themselves, “Am I willing to live an authentic life, bearing witness to the gospel, for all to see?”

Questions:

  1. Why does Paul urge the church to guard its leaders?
  2. If you’re a leader, have you ever felt like you’ve needed to be guarded? Have you ever felt left exposed?
  3. If you follow a leader, what do you think guarding your leader looks like for you personally? For some it may look like a commitment to pray for your leader.
  4. Why do you think leaders seem to be more susceptible to moral failure in the church? Do you think we’ve created a culture where people can be honest about their failures?
  5. What do you think authentic leadership looks like?

Family Matters

Read: 1 Timothy 5:1-16

Mother Teresa is known to have said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” Peace begins in the home. If you think about it, this path to world peace has the greatest possibility of sustainability. If you act nice to outsiders, but don’t take care of your own, you perpetuate a cycle of brokenness in the world. It reminds me of the adage that dentist’s kids always have the worst teeth, or that pastor’s kids are always naughty…I’m really hoping this one isn’t true! People in the helping professions often give their greatest time and energy to others, sometimes forgetting the needs of their own. But Paul knew this proclivity and had something to say about it.

In 1 Timothy 5, Paul writes about how the community of believers is called to first and foremost care for their own families, so that the church isn’t caring for everyone. This happens earlier in Scripture when Jesus is talking to the Pharisees who make a point of giving to the temple, but don’t take care of their own families. Jesus didn’t like this, and neither does Paul. Paul talks about how important it is for believers to care for family members, and even says that those who don’t are worse than unbelievers!

This ideology is not only obviously good for families, it is good for the church, and sustainable for the world. Churches cannot care for all of those who are sick, dying, in need of money, etc. Paul explains that the church’s job is to help the truly in need: the actual widows and orphans who don’t have a family to take care of them. And it is up to the family firstly to care for their own.

This is a far cry from our current model of living. When these passages were written, it would be common for many generations to be living together under one roof: the young caring for the old and the old caring for the young. But today this is an extremely rare lifestyle in the Western world.

In the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, he actually talks about the “Rosetto Mystery,” a study done several decades ago where a small community of Italian immigrants in the United States was outliving everyone else around them. After sociological and scientific insights, researchers discovered that although the community had higher rates of obesity and even heart conditions, they lived longer than others because of a sense of community, a pace of life where many generations lived together and cared for each other. Work was not as big of a priority as caring for family and checking in on each other. It turns out, caring for our own is not only a more sustainable plan for the church, it is also healthier!

I’m not recommending that we all move in to multi-generational homes. But caring well can be done in many ways. As you go about your week, think about how you treat your family in relation to how you treat people outside of your family. Are there ways you could do a better job of loving your family well?

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Do you care for your own well? Do you give your best time and energy to work, school, or even the church, instead of to loved ones?
  2. How could you better care for your family?
  3. What from this passage (1 Timothy 5:1-16) resonates with you? Does anything sound really counter-cultural?

 

Let Your Actions Speak

 

Read: 1 Timothy 4:11-16

When I was a kid, I was a major thrill-seeker. I loved the scariest roller coasters and exciting activities, but I was rarely allowed to do them. First of all, most theme parks have an age requirement to go on the extra scary roller coasters. Once I finally reached the age I needed to be, I still wasn’t tall enough! I missed on the age and height requirements, only to become much more grounded and less interested in thrills by the time I was tall enough and old enough. There was a narrow window when I was interested and allowed. That is not at all what leadership is like…there is no age requirement! There is no height or weight requirement! There is not even an educational requirement to be a leader! Leadership has its basis in the God-given gifts you already possess.

When Paul was writing to Timothy exhorting him to stay strong in his faith and in his leadership of the church, he reminds him that it doesn’t matter that he is young! Paul’s answer to young leaders is actually to set an example for older believers, because followers follow because of actions, not qualifications.

Paul goes on to say, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.” What Paul is referring to here is a spiritual gift. Timothy had the gift of leadership and teaching, among other things. During that time, and even in some churches today, the elders would lay hands on someone and pray over them, “commissioning” them into their role. We do this in the Presbyterian church when we ordain someone or when we send them out on mission. But Paul is talking about doing this to “commission” them to use their spiritual gifts. What a cool way to build each other up in the faith!

Spiritual gifts are not talked about a lot. But I think they are very important for building up of the body of believers. The thing is, maybe not all of us are leaders naturally, but all of us are gifted in different ways and can build up the church with the gifts we have. In some of Paul’s other letters he writes that the gifts include: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, ministering, teaching, exhortation, generosity, leadership, compassion, apostleship, evangelism, and pastoring.

What are your gifts? Use them to better the body. As Paul told Timothy, you don’t need to be a certain height, or age, or ability, or education level to use your gifts. Just set an example to others by using them well with your actions.

One of the most beautiful ways I have seen spiritual gifts at work was working with a young woman who was developmentally delayed. It seems that all of the clutter and pride and ambition to strive to be like others was cleared away for this person. She knew that she had the gift of compassion, so she would assist adult leaders with younger kids each week in the nursery. She showed compassion to the little ones better than I have seen with many more “qualified” adults. It was a beautiful image of a spiritual gift at work: regardless of age, ability, or education level, she shared her gift of compassion and worked as an example to others.

Questions:

  1. Do you ever feel like you are not taken seriously because of your age or abilities?
  2. How does Paul say to react to that?
  3. What spiritual gifts do you identify in your own life? Spend some time with your family or a close friend sharing your spiritual gifts with each other.
  4. What are some ways you could use your spiritual gifts to better your church community?

Discipline Yourself

Read 1 Timothy 4:1-10

Paul uses a lot of words throughout 1 Timothy that lend well to an analogy of training for a race or a fight. Have you ever run a long-distance race before? Perhaps you have run a marathon, a half marathon, or a 10 km race. I am much more of a sprinter than a long-distance type. But when I was 13, I ran a 5 km race, which was the one-and-only time I have run that far…and I really cannot dignify it as a run.

The problem is that long-distance running takes immense discipline in training and in pacing yourself. I did neither. The day of the race, I woke up, ate a good breakfast, and showed up—the entire extent of my preparation for it. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out. I was off quickly at the fire of the gun, sprinting toward the lead with the best of them, but after about two kilometers I was walking. You know how the story goes…

Paul advocates for training, because ministry leadership, like running, is a long-game, not a sprint. And it takes a lot of training to build up the right sorts of tools. Sure, you can jump right in and probably do fine for the short-term, but you will burn out. Paul knew this, and wanted Timothy to learn this lesson as well!

Paul, mentoring Timothy, wisely writes, “Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” He knew that Timothy could easily be overcome by many of the temptations he would face toward false doctrines and the popular cultural paradigms of thinking, so he needed continual training in godliness. Paul also points out that physical training is valuable in our bodily form, but that training in godliness will not only help us now, but also in the long run—even eternally.

So, if you are a leader in any way, this one is pretty important! Leadership, just like running a long-distance race, requires training to do well. Otherwise, you might be “off to the races,” but quickly will lose ground. Luckily, you can start training early in life.

Training begins with faith—having faith in God, and learning to live that out. Training comes in many forms: reading scripture, spending time with Jesus in prayer, and growing in your spiritual gifts as you act obediently to God’s word. It’s not about asceticism or following the rules, but more about working toward a continually stronger relationship with God.

Training ultimately requires time. If occasional Sundays at church are the only “training” you are doing spiritually, consider other ways you could spend time with God, growing your relationship with him.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How can you strike a balance between faithful spiritual discipline and asceticism?
  2. What do you currently practice to “train yourself in godliness?”
  3. What practices might be helpful to start doing?
  4. What lifestyle changes would be required to do this well?

Share the Load

Read 1 Timothy 3:1-16

When I read 1 Timothy 3, I feel a bit overwhelmed… “Now a bishop (overseer) must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money…Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons.” I have two questions here: One, can leaders have any fun at all? And two: who is then qualified for leadership? This sounds like an impossible task!

If you spend all your time worrying about doing all these things correctly and not messing up, you will never attain the role of a leader. But if you are sharing the load, focused on what you can do well, and allowing Christ to compensate for those weaknesses in your life, you can certainly lead well.

What Paul eventually says in this passage about aspiring leaders is that the mystery of our religion is great! The foundation of all these attitudes and good character traits is Christ himself—taken up in glory! We do not have to do it all on our own, because of the One who paid the ultimate price to live with us, to work in us. If you extend an analogy that Paul uses in 2 Corinthians, we are but “clay jars.” We are ordinary vessels who can allow God to work in our lives. We can accomplish a great deal because of Christ in us.

The other thing that this passage purports is that leaders ought to be held to a higher standard of living, and I agree with this. It affects the witness of the church if a leader acts counter to what the Gospel proclaims. But does this mean that leaders can’t make mistakes, or falter, or have a past? Certainly not!

Paul, himself, was one of the greatest leaders in the early church. He was also one of the worst persecutors the church had ever seen before he met Jesus. In Christ, though, he was able to uphold a different lifestyle. He was blameless because Christ made him so. Ultimately, when I read this passage, I see the fruits of the Spirit coming out in Paul’s language. If you have Christ in you, you will act respectably, hospitably, etcetera, because Jesus compensates in our weakness when we share the load with Him.

The other thing I see coming out in this passage is specific gifts that different positions in the church require. Bishops or overseers require that someone be a good teacher. Perhaps you are not a good teacher, but that doesn’t mean that you should not be a leader in some other capacity. Paul counsels Timothy in these things so that he might be able to share the burden of leadership with others and wisely discern who would be gifted in what role.

Sometimes we tend to take on too much, or try to do things all of our own accord, rather than depending on Christ to work through us. These are always the times when something goes awry! But we are at our best when we don’t go it alone, but yoke ourselves to Christ.

For farmers, this may sound oversimplified, but bear with me. When an animal isn’t quite strong enough to do something on their own, they are yoked to another animal who can help bear the load, and bring up the average strength. Just so with us. When we yoke ourselves to Christ, He brings up the average! We can do immeasurably more with His strength, and then these offices don’t sound nearly so impossible.

Questions:

  1. What leadership role(s) have you been called into in your life?
  2. Have you ever tried to do it all by yourself? How did that go?
  3. How might you “yoke yourself to Christ?” What would that look like in your life?

 

 

What?

By Grant Vissers

Read: 1 Timothy 2:8-15

Martin Luther, a German theologian, and one of the central figures in the Protestant Reformation is credited to have attempted to remove Hebrew, James, Jude and Revelation from the Bible. He had a couple of different reasons, but for starters he felt like they contradicted the doctrine of sola fide, which states that humans are saved by faith alone. James, according to Luther, treads too far over that line when talking about “works.” In the end, Luther’s contemporaries and followers dismissed his views and the Bible still includes those books. Fun fact: they are toward the end of the English Bible because Luther placed them right at the end of the German Bible. He thought that little of them.

If I (Grant) was allowed to remove a small number of verses from the Bible, I’d be hard pressed not to remove these verses. They have created so much controversy and division in the church and still do, to this day. It’s ironic because one of the first things Paul writes here is that he wants the church to be free from controversy. I find the controversy and disunity hard, especially when the Bible is so clear about the Church’s mandate for unity. For example, in Ephesians 4 we read this, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” The goal is unity.

Now, obviously we can’t remove verses from the Bible or even ignore them, but we can work hard to study and understand the context in which they were written and the spirit in which they were meant. Let me begin by stating the obvious, I’m married to a female pastor who I believe brings it when she preaches. I interpret these passages contextually.

In other letters, Paul commends women for their work in their local churches. Let me name a few; Prisca, Priscilla and Aquila, Junia, Nereus’ sister, Trophena, Triphosa, and Phoebe. Pheobe was a Deacon in the church and led in local congregations. Bart Ehrman, a theologian and professor, has written stating Paul praises Junia as an apostle and leader within the church. So, on the surface, Paul’s writing in 1 Timothy seems to run contrary to how he himself ran his own ministry.

Let me suggest one way forward. Paul’s instruction to Timothy was context specific. There has been a lot of debate about who the women were that Paul seems to be concerned about here. Many scholars seem to indicate that they were a specific sect or group of women who were particularly disruptive during worship. That may be. But look closely at Paul’s language. “I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve.” In the Greek, Paul uses the indicative tense and NOT the imperative. “I do not…” For this community, Paul is stating the way it is, he is not in fact dictating how things should be for all time. If he had intended to do that, I believe he would have used the imperative tense (command), as he does elsewhere in scripture. Therefore, this is not a once and for all command.

This passage is challenging, that’s why it’s entitled, “What?” It really gets people worked up. I don’t claim to know everything, but let me suggest this, nobody does. The best we can do, is to work to live together in love and unity, building up the body of believers and not tearing each other down.

Questions:

  1. How does this passage make you feel?
  2. Are there other interpretations of this passage that you have heard before?
  3. How can we reconcile the seeming “contradictions” that we see in different scripture passages?

 

Prayer is Our Best Weapon

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-8

Over the course of some of the Mark series, “Inside Out,” we looked at many different types of prayer. In the “Teach Me How to Pray” weeks we looked at adoration, confession, lament, and thanksgiving. These are common types of prayer. Supplication is probably the category we spend the most time in though. Anything that we ask God for would fall into supplication. We often pray for friends and loved ones, we pray for healing, we pray for peace, we pray about broken relationships. But how often do we pray for our leaders.

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul writes to Timothy who is young leader in the church, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” Paul encourages Timothy that he ought to pray for those in leadership above him. Why? Because prayer is our best weapon.

If the leaders above him were not believers, it made great sense to lift them up in prayer so that support, rather than persecutions might ensue. Nobody had more say over how their general life would be lived than the king of their state or country. During Timothy’s time, religious persecution of Christians was rampant, and many kings wreaked havoc on the church at large. Paul’s answer for this was not public disagreement or discourse. His answer was not protest or all out war. Paul’s answer was to pray. Pray for your leaders, “so that you may lead a quiet life.”

Through prayer God has raised the dead, cast out demons, healed the sick, and changed hearts. Why not pray for leaders? If the leader is a believer already, and leading well down a good path, great! But how many Christian leaders have you seen on television who’s lives have ended up in scandals with affairs, addictions, or abuse of power? Leadership isn’t easy, and Paul’s response to that is to lift up leaders in prayer.

So much more so if the leader is actually not a believer should we lift them in prayer. I think of how much I enjoy watching Saturday Night Live skits and John Oliver bits on politicians. They are simply hilarious. And it’s not bad to laugh. But sometimes to cope with things headed in a bad direction politically or in international relations we turn to laughter over leaders more than we turn to God.

Pray for your leaders of the church, of your corporations, of your provinces and nations, that things may be peaceful! There is nothing so powerful as prayer. Paul writes, “I desire, then, that in every place that [all]* should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.” *Though Paul actually directs this statement toward men, it is a good reminder to us all to lift up hands in prayer.

Questions:

  1. Who are the leaders in your life that you should be praying for?
  2. What does your prayer life look like? Do you spend a lot of time in thanksgiving, adoration, supplication, confession, lament?
  3. Is there some type of prayer that you particularly struggle with?
  4. How would you like to see your prayer life expand or grow?
  5. Spend some time praying for the leaders in your life.

 

This Won’t Be Easy

By Grant Vissers

Read: 1 Timothy 1:18-20

Paul wastes little time getting to the meat of the matter. His letter is a reminder to Timothy to continue the work that he has been called to do. “Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience…”

Just prior to this charge, Paul has challenged Timothy to confront false teachers regarding teaching that drew people into confusion, speculation, and ultimately away from the gospel message of faith and love. Here it seems like Paul is challenging Timothy to not become distracted or influenced by the teaching or teachers themselves. Instead, Timothy’s effort should be directed to fighting the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience.

I wonder what runs the risk of distracting the church today? I wonder what has the potential to pull us away from holding on to the faith and fighting our good fight?

When I think about things that have the capacity to distract us today, I think of modern day idols. Idols were physical representations of gods, that were worshipped in the place of the one, true God. In other words, idols distract from what is true. Friedrich Nietzsche writes, “There are more idols in the world than there are realities.” I think that is true, we live in a culture filled with idols. Our idols might not be physical representations of gods, but they might be idols of the heart. In Ezekiel 14:3 God says about the Israelite elders, “These men have set up their gods in their hearts.” Timothy Keller writes of this passage, “Like us, the elders must have responded to this charge, ‘Idols? What Idols? I don’t see any idols.’ God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things.”

Money, success, jobs, appearance, reputation, can all be modern day idols. At the end of the day they are things that distract us from God. Sure, many of them are necessary to survive, however, none of them should be turned into “ultimate things.”

If the reality is that anything has the potential to be turned into an idol, then the obvious question is, “How can I avoid worshipping an idol?” Paul’s answer seems to me to be a little too simple, “hold on to the faith.” Hebrews 10:23 puts a little more meat on the bones, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” The hope that we profess, the hope of the resurrection and faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, is hope because God is faithful. The one who promises, and the one who calls, He is faithful. Holding on to the faith becomes possible because God Himself promises to be faithful.

Questions:

  1. What idols run the risk of distracting you?
  2. What does “hold on to the faith,” look like for you?
  3. What do you think Paul means by, “fight the battle well?”
  4. Do you think that even the church could have idols?

 

 

 

 

Grace is Where You Start and Stay

Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17

There is story I once heard about a prison warden who dramatically changed the prison he worked at in the Southern United States with the power of grace. He started introducing prisoners to the concept of the Gospel and positioning them to recognize their own brokenness and allow the grace of Jesus into their life. During the course of the warden’s tenure at the prison, many people accepted Christ and the fruits of that played out in lower re-offending rates, better rehabilitation, and better reintegration into society after release.

It is a classic story of change toward good! But the point that stuck with me from the story is a quote from a prisoner. When one prisoner was asked about his personal life change and how he ended up doing so much good with his own life, he replied, “Forgiven much—love much.”

This is almost exactly the Apostle Paul’s story. We like to sugar-coat the story of Paul sometimes in a Sunday-school friendly way. Paul was a bad man who met Jesus and then started being a “good Christian.” But Paul (formerly Saul) wasn’t just convicted of crimes against believers because he didn’t have good legal representation; he was actually proud of the fact that he attacked Christians. He took pride in the fact that he was cleansing the area of the Christian seed that was becoming so prolific. The story says that Paul ravaged Christian households dragging men and women off to prison. It also said that he “approved” of killing Christians. That is until he met Jesus (read the story in Acts 7-9).

Saul, the great defiler of the church, became Paul, the planter of many churches when he had a powerful encounter with grace. Just like the prisoner who said, “Forgiven much—love much,” Paul wrote this to Timothy: “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy…and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:12-14) Forgiven much—love much.

Because of the incredible abundance of grace that Paul felt from Jesus, he was “overflowing” with it for others. In leadership, you must start with grace. But you cannot start with grace out of nowhere, you must experience yourself. Then with the grace you have received, you can “overflow” it onto others.

Paul doesn’t become bloated in his thinking of himself as an apostle, but rather calls himself the “foremost among sinners.” He names himself the biggest bad guy, the worst of the worst. In doing this he is saying that because he has been forgiven for so much, his capacity for love is greater still. “But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience.” Paul doesn’t even take credit for his loving people, but rather says that Christ can show that through him.

When leaders live out of grace themselves, they can so much better pour it onto others. “Forgiven much—love much.”

Questions:

  1. Where in your life have you receive grace or mercy?
  2. What did it feel like to be granted grace?
  3. How can receiving grace make us more patient or more loving with others?
  4. Are there aspects of your life in which you could show more “overflowing” grace?
  5. How does abundant grace affect leadership?