Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Paul's Example of How to Finish the Race

A great little essay here by Scotty Smith in the latest Tabletalk.

Here's a taste:
With three decades plus change in the pastoral ministry, the gospel seems to be getting bigger and Jesus is appearing more gracious than ever. Maybe that's because I've never been more aware of my brokenness and more disrupted by longings for the day when the already of the kingdom capitulates to the not yet of shalom. Can it really be that we're destined to be as lovely and as loving as Jesus? (1 John 3:1-3). That promise has singular sustaining power when the inward groans of spiritual childbirth feel more like a tumor than a treasure (Rom. 8:22-25).

I also find myself taking less for granted and making more time for gratitude. Being one year shy of my sixtieth birthday, I'm especially thankful for the leaders who give me a tantalizing glimpse of gospel sanity and genuine humility -- those jars of clay through whom the aroma of grace is the best apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus. May God increase their tribe. I've never been more impressed with leaders who aren't the least bit impressed with themselves. Put the apostle Paul at the top of that list. His words to Timothy, a son and protégé in the faith, charm and challenge my heart (please stop to read 1 Tim. 1:12-17).

From what seminary did this guy graduate? Who progressively updates their professional vitae in this fashion? AD 57, "I'm the least of the apostles" (1 Cor. 15:9). AD 60, "I'm less than the least of all God's people" (Eph. 3:8). AD 63, "I'm chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15) I've always been impressed with Paul's keen mind, but now I'm even more impressed with his gentle, humble heart.

In the rest of the article the headings alone are worthy of edifying meditation:

  • Gospel astonishment versus theological cockiness
  • Chief repenter versus former sinner
  • Preaching Christ to yourself versus preaching yourself
Read the whole thing.