This week I’ve been focusing on a passage of Scripture in which the Apostle Paul challenges his protégé Timothy in II Timothy 2:1 to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (NIV). The New Living Bible translates Paul’s words “be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus” and The English Standard Version reads “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is encouraging Timothy with regard to his work for the Lord, but I think Paul’s instruction is applicable to all of us in terms of living the Christian life. Paul is telling Timothy he can’t fulfill his calling from his own resources, but needs Christ’s grace.
Exactly what is grace? The first definition I learned years ago for the meaning is “unmerited favor.” The idea is that we can’t do anything to win, earn, or deserve God’s grace; it is his gift through Jesus to us. And oh how we need it!
Our need for God’s grace does not end when we accept Christ, are forgiven, and become his follower. The reality is that even though we are saved by God’s amazing grace, we still need to be strong in it.
In the Old Testament there are many examples of people of God who turned their backs on him in a variety of ways including Eve, Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and many others. Perhaps the best known example in the New Testament is Peter’s denials of Jesus following his arrest.
God’s grace was poured out on Peter regarding his denials following Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. John 21 records the occasion when Peter and the other apostles met Jesus on the shore and shared breakfast. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him and Peter told him he did. Jesus reinstated and recommissioned him.
Peter’s denials of Jesus is surprising to some given his promises not to, but apparently not to Jesus. What took place at that morning breakfast on the shore is a model of forgiveness and restoration for Christians who have failed.
Christians, you and I, regularly need God’s grace because of our shortcomings and failures. We need to be strong in grace facing up to and admitting our sins knowing that the Lord will forgive us. Being strong in grace does not mean we can be cavalier about our sin, but it does mean repentance from our broken hearts brings God’s forgiveness.
John Gill, a professor at California Baptist University makes a powerful point when he observes, “No Christian, not even a pastor, is a stranger to sin.” He then makes a humble statement with which we all can identify: “I will never outgrow my need for the Lord’s grace.”
Feel free to leave a comment below and/or share this post on Facebook.
photo credit: MTSOfan <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8628862@N05/26752471487″>Emphasis on Grace</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>