This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
—1 Timothy 1:15–17
Paul had a very clear perspective on the magnitude of his own salvation, even as he expressed that it was in part a display of the depth of God’s love and forgiveness. In essence, Paul said, “If God can forgive me, He can forgive anyone!” To show His longsuffering was but part of why God saved Paul, however; the heart of why God saved him was simply that He loved him and is unwilling that any should perish.
Paul also indirectly addressed one of the issues I consider a spiritual plague in our day, and that is the lack of fear of the Lord. We often hear this expressed in terms of God being “the big guy” or “the man upstairs.” It is also widely expressed in the casualness in which God is approached in prayer and in life.
“Good buddy” God seems to be the mentality of many today, but in my opinion, this does a great disservice to the Lord and the church. Yes, Christ called us His friends, and yes, we are free to cry out “Abba Father,” or “Papa.” But still we owe Him reverent honor and respect. I find it interesting that people will dress up and be on their best behavior to meet a human dignitary or movie star, but they treat the King eternal, the immortal, invisible God, less respectfully than they do the people He created.
I am not saying we need to diminish the wonderful blood-bought unity we have with the Father through Jesus Christ, but I do think we need to remember that we were saved while we were yet sinners and also keep in mind who it is we are addressing when we come before Him in prayer. That does not mean we need to pray in King James English, and it doesn’t mean we cannot speak conversationally with Him. But it does mean we need to be careful about bossing Him around as though He were our servant.
Jesus, in giving the model prayer in Mathew 6, told His disciples to begin in prayer by hallowing the name of the Lord. The word hallowed means “to purify” or “to venerate mentally.” In other words, when we pray, we are to keep in mind the one to whom we are praying. This example is pictured for us here in the words of Paul. He recognized who he was in light of the one who had saved him, and he knew the one who had saved him was the only one worthy of honor and glory.
Dear friend, come confidently before the throne of grace into the very presence of God through Jesus Christ. There in His presence, remember who is who. You and I are the chief of sinners, and He alone is the King eternal, immortal, invisible—God. You will find this approach leads to a very fulfilling prayer life, which we all need. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” will set the tone for any productive time of prayer.
Excerpt from “Body Builders” now available on Amazon.