Why is that? What do timidity and pride have in common? Me! When I’m timid, whom am I thinking about? Me! When I’m proud, whom am I thinking about? Me! Here’s one thing I’m going to remind my brother about on his installation day. The worst thing a pastor can do in his ministry—and it’s a big temptation—is to make it all about him. I don’t think it’s any different for you. The worst thing a person can do with her life is make it all about her. You know what are signs your life has become focused on you? Timidity and pride—our constant companions.
So here’s what conquers that: “God saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” On days when you feel timid, like you’re worthless or a failure, think, “It’s not about me. God saved me! My life doesn’t depend on me or my works. It depends on God’s grace!” On days when you feel proud, like you’re better than everybody else, think, “It’s not about me. God saved me! My life doesn’t depend on me or my works. It depends on God’s grace!” It’s all God. It’s all grace.
Paul writes, “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…” When did God start loving you? Before the beginning of time! This blows our minds! For those of us with children, think of it like this. You planned for children long before they were actually born. Once you and your spouse decided to have a baby, it maybe took months or years to be-come pregnant. You waited nine months during pregnancy. You raised that child for years be-fore they really understood what’s going on. And then they become teenagers and ask, “Why don’t you love me?” And you’re like, “What?” You tell that child: “I have loved you since before the beginning of time. Long before you ever existed, I planned for you and longed for you and waited for you and loved you… You have no idea how much I love you!” That’s God’s love for you. Before the beginning of time, God had you on his mind. That’s grace!
But God’s love for you didn’t just stay in his mind. “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Jesus came! He died for our sins and he rose to destroy death and bring life. This is what makes a Christian different from everybody else. You don’t have to be afraid of death. You don’t have to live like there’s no tomorrow. There is! While I was in Wisconsin helping Pastor Heise move, I heard about a WELS man who died suddenly last Saturday at the age of 60. His family was shocked, but at his home, they found great comfort. His Meditations devotion book was opened to that day’s devotion. Do you know what the title of the devotion was the day he died? “Who’s next?” It was about “Who’s next to enter heaven?” Do you think God was in control? Jesus destroyed death, so you don’t ever have to fear it.
So Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am con-vinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” This is what it all comes down to. Whom have you believed? Every person is trusting in someone or something. Every person is putting their life into someone else’s hands—you have to! Whom are you trusting in? God is faithful. Like the best bank with your money, you can put your faith and your life in God’s hands and know that he will keep it until the day comes when you’re next—when he takes you to heaven.
What should I tell my brother as he begins serving a new congregation? This is what I’m going to tell him to remember: “I know whom I have believed.” Base your life on that phrase. When the timidity wells up inside, “I know whom I have believed.” When the devil ac-cuses you of your sins, “I know whom I have believed.” When all the world seems against you: “I know whom I have believed.” When it would seem to be a whole lot easier to stop following God, “I know whom I have believed.” When you face death, “I know whom I have believed.” Jesus Christ keeps his Word! “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline,” because we know whom we have believed!