“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:15-17).
“All my theology is reduced to this narrow compass – Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” Archibald Alexander
Allow me to take some liberties with this Scripture. “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save husbands – of whom I am the worst!” Yes, I am a veteran sinner in other areas of my life too, but my darkest side seems to be most evident as a husband. How many ways have I have fallen short of what Jesus and Robyn deserve? I have known the high calling of marriage most of my life but have stumbled into my own special brand of stupidity – repeatedly. Externally, I have a strong argument for being the worst husband ever! There is little I can point to in my behavior and pronounce otherwise.
But because of Christ there is a different story to tell regarding my inner man – Robyn’s true husband. This is a story that “deserves full acceptance”. I have been shown mercy so that Christ may be on full display in my life and that the enormity of His patience may be seen toward me. From eternity past Jesus saw my flaws but is now unmoved in His commitment to me. The accuser points at my despicable behaviors and attempts to distract Jesus from my defense. Yet my Lord remains unyielding in our journey to a higher place. This is a trustworthy statement. I accept it.
So what is my calling in view of receiving this immeasurable mercy? Undoubtedly it is to transfer this gift of mercy toward Robyn in my day to day interactions with her. The internal change afforded me by faith is to fundamentally effect how I husband her. The “new birth” is to find root in a thousand acts of tenderness and consideration, for I am a new man; a new husband.
But there’s more.
It is not my prerogative to cover up my inadequacies and present to the world an air of having it all together in any area of my life, but especially as a husband. Paul was glad to announce that he was the worst of sinners as it made the grace and mercy of Jesus all the more overwhelming and vast. He knew that in telling his story it would serve as an example to any other believer that their sin was not dark enough, pervasive enough, or enduring enough to disqualify them from the impact of the gospel.
You see, if Jesus could redeem a man like Paul he can redeem a man like me; and if Jesus can liberate a man like me he can liberate a man like you, my Brother. It is true that Jesus does not call us to Himself for us to remain unchanged. We are to make steady growth into His image, growing in that image throughout life. It does the gospel no honor and my brothers no good for me to present myself as a finished product. There must be an ever present humility affirming that the only growth I have ever made is credited to the ginormous patience of God toward me – the most shameless of sinners and husbands.
A word about humility….
Humility, when it has completed its work, does not point to me but outwardly to another and ultimately to God. Self-degradation is not synonymous with modesty but is the subversive form of arrogance and self-centeredness. As I maintain any obsession over my “worminess” I maintain a focus on me rather than being drawn to Christ. Self-loathing is about ME and reflects a limited internalization of entrusting myself to Jesus and results in my death. Repentance is about Christ, is conceived by a “godly sorrow” and leads to redemption with no regret (2 Corinthians 7:10).
See the difference?
So I gladly rejoice in and affirm that Jesus came to redeem me as a man, husband and father.
Lord, how may I witness to your great resolve to bring renewal to me as a husband? May I look into Robyn’s eyes and listen intently to her heart. Teach me not to look past her and day dream about my agenda and plans. Show me the things that would bring rich blessing to her each day. Remind me of her love for “coffee time”, where she and I can share our hearts in laughter and tears, trivia and substance, delight and worship…. Help me to relieve her fears. When she looks at me, may there be increasing evidence of my union with her. Thank you for taking the vilest of all sinners and empowering me to love her as you have loved your bride and given yourself up for her. Now to the One who alone is named Trustworthy, the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.