I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
— 1 Timothy 1:12—14
Twice a week, I spend my mornings in the Kaufman County Jail. I look forward to these hours because I get to see God working in the hearts of the women who live there. All of the members of our group have a history of horrific trauma and of the subsequent addiction used to cope with the fallout. Most carry wounds from childhood that have haunted them into adulthood. My fellow group leaders and I are often amazed at the transformations that take place in front of us, but we all recognize that we are not the ones who have brought the healing. We are the lucky few who get to pour out the mercy of Jesus in an environment that feels gray and hopeless, just as Jesus pours out mercy on us.
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
— 1 Timothy 1:15—16
There is often a special reaction that occurs when a teacher looks at a student with so much love that all of the student’s doubts are melted away. In Indian culture, it is called a “glance of mercy.” When we are seen as worthy, we can begin to believe that we are worthy. I’ll never forget the moments along my journey as a Christian when I felt truly seen and accepted by God. It is one thing to know cognitively that he feels that way about me. It is another thing entirely for me to feel his glance of mercy upon me. To know in my soul that although I am like Paul, the foremost of sinners, I am also fiercely loved and fully accepted.
We are the Church, a body of believers who have been tasked with moving toward the pain and suffering in the world. We have been commissioned to care for others because they are God’s children for whom Jesus laid down his life. We have been given resources so that we may bless and serve those in need. We are to be our Lord’s eyes to broken people, offering them the glance of mercy that he offers to us. I’ll let you in on a little secret. While this task can sometimes be overwhelming and frustrating, it is also exciting and fun. There is nothing more rewarding than to be used by God to bring hope and healing, to see people through the eyes of a caring Savior who offers mercy and grace. Today, may you feel his glance of mercy upon you, and may you offer that glance of mercy to those he puts into your path.