Saturday, 11 November 2017
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 1 Timothy 1:12
Paul bursts into praise because of the words he just said in the previous verse – “…according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.” He probably stopped for a moment and thought, “God counted me – even me – worthy of this honor. How can it be?”
As readers of the word, we may place Paul on a super-spiritual level, but he certainly didn’t feel that way. He will explain his time before Christ in the coming verses, but for now he says, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord.” To thank someone for something generally means that they have obtained from the person something they did not previously possess. Paul directs his thanks to the Lord because it is He, as he says, “who has enabled me.” The word translated as “enabled” is one which indicates that an outward source of strength is bestowed. The word “empowered” conveys the thought well.
In this, Paul claims that the strength required to conduct his affairs in conveying the gospel came from Christ and not from himself. This is in accord with the words of the Lord when He spoke to the disciples the words of John 15:5, “without Me you can do nothing.” Paul confirms this in his own life as an apostle.
Next, he states why the Lord enabled him. It is “because He counted me faithful.” As the Lord is omniscient, this is not an “after-conversion” judgment, but a “pre-conversion” judgment. The Lord saw the makeup of Paul, and knew that it was exactly what was needed to meet the grueling demands of the office which would be placed upon him. In the verses ahead, Paul will describe some of his negative traits, showing his unworthiness to hold the position he was placed in. However, Jesus looked at his positive attributes and knew that with the proper guidance, Paul was the right man for the task which lay ahead.
Because of this, Paul says that it was for this reason that the Lord put him “into the ministry.” What may be a better translation is that the Lord had “appointed him to His service.” The word translated here as “ministry” is not simply one used as a reference to a religious duty. Rather, it is a general word which covers both secular and religious affairs. Paul was called into the service of the Lord, having been appointed by Christ specifically because he was reckoned as faithful.
Life application: Each of us has a general makeup which determines who we are. The Lord knows that makeup, and He will use it for His purposes. If we run ahead and jump into a ministry that fails, we shouldn’t be upset at the Lord. Rather, we should praise Him for ending something that was not meant to be. Having said this, there are many “ministries” which are highly successful, but which are not conducted in accord with the words of Paul in the pastoral epistles. Success in a ministry which is not in accord with the word of God is not a successful ministry at all. Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that a church is sound because it is growing, popular, well-funded, etc. A successful ministry is one which is first and foremost aligned with the word of God.
Heavenly Father, help us to evaluate our ministers and the ministries we see in accord with the word of God alone. May we never assume that a ministry is successful because it is popular, increasing in number, or for any other reason. A ministry which is not in accord with your word may be successful by worldly standards, but it is actually just another worn stone laying on the side of Apostasy Avenue. Help us to remember this and to adhere to Your word alone when evaluating pastors and churches. Amen.