1 Timothy 1 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Shufei Lei, Gracepoint Berkeley

Think about a person who finds serving God laborious and tiresome.  Contrast this attitude with Apostle Paul’s response to being appointed to his service.  Which attitude more resembles mine?  What is the source of Apostle Paul’s joy and gratitude when he thinks about his current role in God’s service?

Marking the person who finds serving God laborious and tiresome and Apostle Paul who is thankful to God for the service opportunity on two ends of the spectrum regarding attitude in serving God, I find myself oscillating between these two ends with a more natural leaning to the former. Apostle Paul’s gratitude flowed out of his reflection of his past, persecuting the church and going against God’s will out of his ignorant zeal (v13). Recognizing that God did not treat him as his sins deserve but instead used him as His vessel to proclaim the Gospel, he was blown away by the immense mercy, grace, love and privilege from God (v14). I find my heart rises with gratitude, joy and a humbling sense of privilege whenever I reflect upon my past: how God has rescued me from the kind of death that I was living in, how He has shaped and changed me, and how He has been using me to do His holy and awesome work. However, these feelings are often quickly eclipsed by the negative feelings resulted from my narcissistic expectations of what serving God should look like. The unpleasant feelings of serving God came often when my plans and schedules got interrupted. They also came when serving God was causing me more pain and discomfort than I had “signed up” for. In those times, my mentality toward doing Gods’ work would shift from serving God to doing God a favor, forgetting about God’s mercy and disregarding the immense privilege of serving God. This kind of changes in mentality and perspectives are deeply rooted in my sinful nature. To struggle against my natural self, I need to daily face up to my sinfulness and reflect upon all that God has done, and is still doing, in my life, so that I can see the REALITY that God does not owe me a thing but that I owe God my allegiance, my service, and my life. Keeping in line with these truths will help me battle against the negative and wrong feelings that come from the difficulties and labor of serving God.

Who does Apostle Paul credit for being able to faithfully serve God?  For what purposes do I seek God’s strength?  When have I experienced being strengthened by him?

Apostle Paul credited Jesus Christ for giving him the strength to faithfully serve God. Apostle Paul was a man familiar with suffering and weaknesses. He drew strength from God in times of personal trials, as evidenced in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. He sought and relied on God’s strength to endure the hardships and difficulties in serving God, in advancing the Gospel, in bearing the pressure of his concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28). The suffering that I experience in my life is no where near what Apostle Paul went through (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). However, I seek God’s strength when I try to please God in small ways. For example, I seek His strength when I am struggling with my sins because I know that only by the power of the Holy Spirit can my heart be changed and my mind renewed. I seek His strength when I try to evangelize to non-Christians and minister to younger Christians because I lack wisdom and love. In fact, I am now seeking His strength as the new semester is dawning on me and a whole new group of international graduate students are arriving at the Berkeley campus. I seek His strength in loving the people in my household because sometimes it’s most difficult for me to love the people closest to me. And its’ in the context of my household that I most recently experienced being strengthened by Jesus. Due to my sinfulness and other circumstances, there have been tensions at home between my parents and me. I felt that it was really difficult for me to be a loving son at home because I would be so easily annoyed and frustrated. However, as I reflected upon Jesus’ sacrificial love on the cross, I asked God to give me the courage and strength to die to my ego and my prince-like attitude and to imitate Christ. And this repentance before God led me to resume conversations with my parents and to try to take care of them better by doing more house chores. As a result, the atmosphere in the house has become warmer.

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