14 Our Lord’s favor poured all over me along with the faithfulness and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 This saying is reliable and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I’m the biggest sinner of all. 16 But this is why I was shown mercy, so that Christ Jesus could show his endless patience to me first of all. So I’m an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life.
In this letter, Paul is describing his life before he met the Risen Savior on the Damascus Road. He had such zeal for his religion that it led him to persecute and murder followers of Jesus. (You can read Paul’s conversion story in Acts 9:1-19.) Paul had to be blinded before he could truly see that he was, in his own words, “the biggest sinner of all.” As a Pharisee he followed the letter of the law, but he never understood that love was the origin and purpose, the intended outcome of God’s own commandments. It wasn’t until Paul experienced the transformational love of Jesus that he began to understand God’s mercy and the gift of salvation. Paul discovered that only God could have had the endless patience to bring him from persecutor to Apostle in such an amazing way.
Jesus was endlessly patient with the selfish and often dense disciples, but only God has the endless patience to transform our lives. None of us has endless patience. We expect instant everything. We think we’re in control and rage or weep when we don’t get our way. There’s a limit for even the most patient among us. Like a potter working clay, in each of our lives, God is patiently at work through the Spirit transforming us and equipping us for the Kin(g)-dom. God’s love in us provides us with the patience we need to be compassionate and loving to others. Patience, that comes from God’s love, brings us grace and peace to persevere.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Paul tells his story so others can see the miraculous change in his life by God’s mercy and God’s endless patience. Paul uses the example of his own life, how he was once a persecutor, who was shown mercy and forgiveness and was given eternal life through Jesus Christ. Paul tells us if God can do all of this for me, God can transform your life too. Look back, before Jesus redeemed you from sin and transformed your life. Do you see the transformation brought about by the endless patience of God in your life? We can depend on the Spirit to guide us and provide us with patience when we are in short supply. Are our lives “examples” of patience for others?
Prayer: Merciful God, we give you thanks for your endless patience with us. Guide us each day, that by the transforming of your Spirit we will become more loving, more patient as you are with us. Amen.