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In our series on 1 Timothy 1:12–17, we have been looking at Paul’s paradigm of salvation. So far, we’ve seen how this passage tells us the what and the how of salvation. In this installment, we’re going to look at the why. Here’s what Paul says:

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

In verse 16, Paul says he received mercy for this reason: “that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”

For us to understand how Paul’s salvation is an example, we should first notice that he says his salvation is a display of Christ’s “perfect patience.” This theme runs throughout the Bible, where God displays patience so that His people might repent.

Christ’s patience toward Paul is an example so that we can see Christ’s patience in our lives too. Many of us, me included, wanted nothing to do with God, yet He bore with us, pursued us lovingly and patiently, and then, at the right time, brought us to Himself by His Spirit.

Some Christians might not remember a time when they didn’t know God. But God is patient also with those of us who fall into that category. I once had a friend who lamented the fact that he didn’t have a dramatic conversion story like many of the folks at the church I used to attend. He grew up in a Christian home and had always been a believer. I told him I praised God for his story. I had only been a Christian for a few years at that point, and it was a great encouragement to me to see someone who had been living the Christian life for years. Hearing his story told me that this was actually doable, that one can live the Christian life long term.

But I and my friend and all of us continue to sin after we are saved. God’s patience does not end at the moment of our salvation. He continues to be patient with us, as His Holy Spirit works in us to make us more like His Son.

So, why does God do this for us? Why is He patient? Why does He save at all? Paul gives the answer in verse 17. After reflecting on God’s mercy and patience in salvation, look at what Paul says: “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” He erupts in praise.

May we never tire of giving God glory for the salvation that we enjoy through Christ and for His holiness.

Paul praises God for His mercy and patience, because this is how God glorifies Himself. He is glorified through the display of His attributes: things such as His love, mercy, justice, patience, power, and wisdom. God’s attributes show us who He is; they show us His character.

In everything He does, God displays His character so that He might be known and glorified for who He is. He saves, He loves, He shows mercy, He shows patience, He judges—all for His own glory.

When we read through the Bible, we see this on every page. Whenever God talks about why He does things, He says it’s for His own glory. That He would be glorified. That people would know His name. That they would give him praise.

There is even a passage in the Old Testament, in Leviticus 14, about the procedure the Israelites were to follow when they found mildew in their house. They were to follow a series of steps, but if nothing worked, the house was to be demolished. How is God glorified in this?

The mildew is a metaphor for sin. God cannot tolerate sin, so it must be reckoned with. The lesson for the Israelites was: praise God that your house had to be demolished, because it means that the God we serve is righteous and holy. When we see our sin and its consequences, we can be grateful for the power and mercy of God in redeeming us from that sin.

Praise God that is holy. And on top of that, praise God that He is holy and we are not, and yet He has made it so that we can be made holy and live in His presence anyway. Praise God that if we are in Christ by faith, we are not destroyed by a holy God but have been saved for His own glory.

This is why God saved Paul, and why He still saves today. So that He can be seen for the holy, loving, merciful God that He is. So, the call is for us to praise Him for His marvelous works.

Let us pray that we will grasp just how incredible this privilege is to receive mercy undeservedly through the work of Christ and to glorify Him with our lives. That like Paul, we would cease from trying to add to the work or Christ and simply receive and rest in it as having accomplished our salvation. And that we might strive for holiness and service to God. And that we might live in the knowledge that we are not simply running around doing meaningless things, but that our very lives reflect glory back to the One who made us and brought us back to Himself.

God aims to glorify Himself in all that He does. Because that is His aim, it should be ours as well. Living this way can be costly. It might cost us our house. It might cost us our former way of life. It might cost us our friends or family. But it is worth it to see God’s glory, and to praise Him for it. May we never tire of giving God glory for the salvation that we enjoy through Christ and for His holiness.

Fear and the Fight to Remember

Staring Death in the Face