August 8, 2021
Observation: These gracious words of Paul echo that of his Master. Just as the voice of Christ called out Paul on the road to Damascus for persecuting the church and then guided him to healing and restoration (Acts 9:4-6), so Paul petitions to forgive those who abandoned him in the hope of their renewal. While gratitude is the primary motivator, Paul’s ability to sense the presence of the Lord and resultantly feel strengthened also played an essential role in forgiving and letting go. As such, knowing he was not alone, Paul stood up against persecution and boldly preached the Gospel to those who would have caused him harm.
Scripture: At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 2 Tim 4:16-17 ESV
Takeaway: If we entrust ourselves solely to the Triune God who has rescued us from sin’s death sentence and is always with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20), we will not despair when others fail us. And if we realize our propensity to sin toward others as they have sinned toward us, then, Like Paul, we will more readily forgive them and petition the Father for their restoration.
Prayer: Father, help us discern your presence and trust in your care rather than place our hope in others wholeheartedly. And help us to be quick to forgive and pray for the restoration of those who have failed us that together we might grow your kingdom and glorify your name. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling