1 Timothy 1:14
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
Grace and its fruits are, you perceive, the two themes of the apostle's thankfulness, as they should be the two great themes of our thankfulness.
I. CONSIDER, IN THE FIRST PLACE, THE GRACE OF OUR LORD, WHICH WAS "EXCEEDING ABUNDANT." If there was one theme on which Paul dwelt oftener, and lingered longer than others, it was this theme of Divine grace. He took pleasure in giving it prominence, and securing for it attention. It was with him a great central truth, from which other truths radiated, and towards which they again converged. It was a seminal truth, a seed out of which other truths sprang and grew. It was a foundation truth, on which he continued to build a structure of strength and holiness and beauty. In this respect, all saints are very much alike. "By grace are ye saved." Grace is one form of Divine love. I say one form, because there are others. God loves Himself. He loves His perfect works — the high intelligencies that surround His throne. But this is a love of complacency. Grace is pity — it is love unconstrained by any governmental necessities — unmerited by any moral qualifications. It is worthy of notice that Paul characterizes the grace of God to himself as "exceeding abundant." He adds one term to another for the purpose of expressing his sense of its freeness and fulness. This is a proper way of speaking. Nothing but grace, nothing but "exceeding abundant" grace, could have moved God to give His only begotten Son for the forgiveness of sins; nothing less than grace, "exceeding abundant" grace, could have converted and saved Isaac the son of faithful Abraham, and Samuel, for whom the devout Hannah prayed, and Solomon, brought up in the house of the man after God's own heart, and Timothy, who had known the Scriptures from a child. However great our religious advantages, or excellent our character, or refined and elevated our tastes, the heart by nature is corrupt, and the life is bad, and nothing short of "exceeding abundant" grace can purify the former and rectify the latter. After all it comes to this, that every Christian finds in his own conversion the most illustrious manifestation of the grace of God. There is another peculiarity in Paul's language which we must not overlook. He speaks of the grace shown in his salvation as "the grace of our Lord." By our Lord he evidently means the Lord Jesus Christ. Elsewhere he attributes his salvation to the Father; he recognizes, also, the sovereign agency of the Holy Spirit; here he refers, in an especial manner, as in other places, to our Lord Jesus Christ. He calls himself "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ;" he says, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." It was Christ who sent him to preach the gospel; and when in prison he was "the prisoner of Jesus Christ"; he could do all things through Christ, who strengthened him; he could say, with truth, "I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." "For me to live is Christ." What a comment all this is on his saying to the Corinthians, "For I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." The grace of our Lord, towards us and in us, has been "exceeding abundant."
II. Now, let us consider THE FRUITS OF GRACE, of which Paul speaks — "Faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." These two elements of Christian character are put, if you will look at the chapter, in opposition to the apostle's previous character. Speaking of himself, in the preceding verse, he says, "I, who was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious, did it ignorantly in unbelief," but now, instead of unbelief and blasphemy there is simple, yet strong faith, and instead of persecution and injury, there is ardent, self-denying love. Look at the reality and strength of the faith! It overturned all the prejudices of the mind fortified by parental example and early education. It made him bold as a lion in the advocacy of the Redeemer's cause, before the philosophers and monarchs of the age. How ardent and consuming was this man's love. His love to Christ led him to renounce friends and fame; it burned out the old enmity of his heart against Jesus, and filled him with a consuming zeal. It prompted him to undertake the most arduous labours, it enabled him to endure hardships by sea and land, and to brave persecution by his countrymen. It was the great secret of his life and labours. "What mean ye to weep and to break my heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." And to this supreme love to Jesus Christ, there was united a warm affection for His followers, a tender compassion for all mankind. He loved and enkindled love. Such were the fruits of a Divine grace in the apostle Paul, and just in proportion as that grace is in our hearts, will these fruits appear in us. Like causes produce like effects. Let us try ourselves to see whether or not we are partakers of the grace of God in truth. Observe, for a moment, the order in which the apostle places these Christian virtues — faith and love. Faith first, love second. We find this order in other parts of his writings; they are not by chance here — "Faith which worketh by love." "Let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love." You see how natural this order is. The sinner has, first, a believing apprehension of Christ. There can be no real love to Christ, or love to men for His sake, without faith in Him. You may admire His character, but you cannot feel that personal obligation and attachment which He demands. Burke could appreciate to some extent the philanthropic career of Howard; Pollock and Cowper could sing his praises; but how vastly different from their emotions towards the great philanthropist, was the love cherished by the prisoners whose lot he alleviated, and the distressed whose sorrows he removed. Remember this also — If you profess faith, you will show it by love. "Faith which worketh by love." If you desire to know whether you believe in Christ, ascertain this by asking whether you love Christ. Paul mentions only faith and love as the fruits of Divine grace in Him. Not that these were the only fruits produced, but because these are the chief, and where these are found all the others will surely be found with them. The Christian virtues hang together like grapes in clusters. Where you find faith and love you will find also obedience, patience, purity, meekness, and everything that is excellent and of good report. (W. Walters.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.