On October 28, 1988, Shon Hopwood pled guilty to robbing several banks in Nebraska. But while he was in prison, his life was changed. He became interested in law and prepared a court petition for a fellow inmate that eventually went to the Supreme Court. He earned his law degree and helped other inmates with legal advice. Today, he is a changed man, teaching at Georgetown University and advocating for prison reform.
The apostle Paul was continually in awe that God had transformed his life. He had been a “blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man” (v. 13). When he was an enemy of Jesus, the Lord met him on the road to Damascus. He had been changed by God’s grace and brought to a place of faith in Christ (v. 14). He had gone from being a man who persecuted Christians to serving as a Christian missionary. This gave him a sense of gratitude and of hope for even the most hardened sinner. After all, if God could change him, no one was beyond reach.
Paul described his background because he wanted to encourage Timothy to go through with church discipline of Hymenaeus and Alexander (v. 20). These men were likely leaders in the church who were engaged in false teaching. Since they had “suffered shipwreck with regard to their faith,” they should be “handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (v. 20). The language of handing over to Satan is a reference to church discipline. But there is a note of hope in this discipline. Paul himself was once a blasphemer. If God could reach him, He could also reach Hymenaeus and Alexander. But the process would begin with confronting their false teaching.
>> The stories of how the Lord has rescued us from our past sins and addictions highlight God’s power and mercy. Thank God today for what He has done in your life and look for opportunities to share your testimony with others. No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace.
Following Paul’s example in today’s reading, thank God for His transforming work in your life. Praise Him for the amazing grace of His love: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).