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Paul's grateful amazement at God's kindness

October 14, 2022

Daily Scripture

1 Timothy 1:12-16, 2 Timothy 2:23-25

1 Timothy 1

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength because he considered me faithful. So he appointed me to ministry 13 even though I used to speak against him, attack his people, and I was proud. But I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and without faith. 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.

2 Timothy 2

23 Avoid foolish and thoughtless discussions, since you know that they produce conflicts. 24 God’s slave shouldn’t be argumentative but should be kind toward all people, able to teach, patient, 25 and should correct opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will change their mind and give them a knowledge of the truth.gps-find-a-cause-make-a-donation.png?mtime=20221007153535#asset:38752

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul looked back on the days when, as an angry young Pharisee named Saul, he proudly persecuted and killed Christians (Acts 7:57-8:1, 9:1-2). Despite that, he said, Christ’s favor, love and faithfulness had “poured all over me.” He maintained a lifelong sense of wonder and gratitude for the way God’s kindness had reshaped his life focus at a time when he was fighting against God. And one way he expressed that was urging everyone he worked with to show kindness.

  • The letters to Timothy echoed Jesus’ teaching in Luke 6:27-28, which we read yesterday: “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.” Acting like that is not natural to any of us. In what ways can you allow the Holy Spirit to reshape your natural impulses to grow the fruit of kindness toward all people in your life?
  • Jesus asked, “If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:46-47). Kindness to people who are kind to you is just good manners. But “kind toward all people”? That only grows, over time, as the Holy Spirit’s godly presence shapes you. In what ways has Jesus made you kinder than you used to be?

Come, Holy Spirit! Grow kindness in me, not as wimpy emotionalism to please those I like, but as hard-edged, practical determination to live a life that reflects my Lord Jesus’ way of treating people even as he worked to defeat evil with good. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe & his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 & were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew & Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

On the Resurrection trip to the Passion Play in Germany this past summer, we also visited Prague in the Czech Republic & learned of the life of King Wenceslas, circa 900 A.D. This is the same Wenceslas celebrated in the Christmas hymn, “Good King Wenceslas.” (A Christmas carol reference in October? Editor. I know. I hate “holiday jumping” as well. Last week our neighbors shot off fireworks in anticipation of the New Year. The noise was so bad our dogs hid under our Christmas tree. – DL.) Let’s take a look at his life & how it might apply to today’s passage:

Wenceslas’ grandparents converted to Christianity during a mission visit from 2 legendary brothers (St. Cyril & St. Methodius). His grandmother, Ludmilla, carefully nurtured the young boy in the faith, even though his mother remained a devout pagan. When Wenceslas was 13, his father is killed in battle. Fearing that the grandmother’s influence was going to raise a weak monarch, Wenceslas’ mother has the grandmother strangled to death. His mother’s role in the murder of the grandmother is eventually discovered & she is forced into exile.

Aside: I’ve been reading a book about the 3 most prominent French Monarchs: Louis the XIV, Louis XVI, & Charlemagne. It is entitled, “Oui – Three Kings.”

Wenceslas assumes the throne when he comes of age at 18 in 925 A.D. Following the Commandment to honor one’s father & mother, Wenceslas reconciles with his mother & lets her & his pagan brothers return to the kingdom. Wenceslas’ reign infuriates the old nobility, who chafe at his Christian ethics. He ends the persecution of Christians & begins an ambitious program to build churches throughout the Czech region. He creates policies to clothe the naked, give shelter to pilgrims, & buy the freedom for those sold into slavery. (He was nicknamed “Father of all the Wretched,” which is accurate but not a particularly catchy honorific.) Much to the chagrin of the expert-class, Wenceslas forms a strong friendship with King Henry I of Germany & settles for a peaceful resolution to the long-running conflict between the 2 nations.

Aside: Comic fans know of Superman’s origins on the planet Krypton. His Kryptonite name was Kal-El & his father was named Jor-El. But did you know Superman actually had an older brother who was born on Christmas day? The 1st No-El.

Our Christmas Carol gives us one example of the many acts of kindness of King Wenceslas. On the Feast of Saint Stephen (December 26), Wenceslas looks out his castle window & sees a poor man gathering firewood in the midst of a violent snowstorm. Wenceslas wants to help the man, so he sets off with a page to deliver food & firewood. The page grows tired trudging through the deep snow & says he is too cold to continue. King Wenceslas urges the page to follow in his footsteps & he’ll stay warm. They then share a delicious feast with the man in his cabin.

Back to our story: After the birth of Wenceslas’ son, Wenceslas’ pagan brother, Boleslas, fears his chance at the power of the throne will be lost forever. Urged on by the nobility, Boleslas invites Wenceslas to a religious feast & attacks Wenceslas with a sword. Wenceslas briefly escapes, but is quickly apprehended on the steps of the cathedral & is beaten to death on September 28, 935 A.D. Wenceslas was 22 years old.

Many miracles have been associated with Wenceslas’ scene of martyrdom & for those who pray to King Wenceslas. Our Bohemian friends have a huge statue of Wenceslas astride his horse in downtown Prague & commemorate Saint Wenceslas each year on his feast day – September 28. “Vaclav” (which is Wenceslas in the Czech language) is still a very popular name in the region.

So, what might this ancient biography mean for us today? We know King Wenceslas was a devout Christian. Not because of anything he wrote or said, but by what he did.

  • King Wenceslas didn’t just memorize the 10 Commandments; he lived them.
  • King Wenceslas didn’t just lecture about loving his enemies; he did it.
  • King Wenceslas didn’t just talk about forgiveness; he practiced mercy.
  • King Wenceslas didn’t just brag about helping the poor; he did it.
  • King Wenceslas didn’t just say, “Someone ought to do _____.” He became that someone.

So, the next time we hear this Christmas carol (hopefully after Thanksgiving) let’s smile knowing this simple tune is about a great man & listen carefully to the charge in the closing verse:

Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing

Ye, who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find a blessing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m reading some trivia about King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. I did not know that one of his colleagues had a permanent case of laryngitis, hence a Silent Knight.

PS: For those who would like a refresher of the hymn: Good King Wenceslas

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.