Today’s verse doesn’t make easy reading. It begins, “For we ourselves were once…” and then gives a list of not very good things.
The context of this verse is our attitude to unbelievers (see Titus 3:1-2), which we will look at tomorrow, but it is worthwhile reflecting first on this verse concerning our own lives. It might seem that the list is quite harsh, but as I meditate upon it, I realise that this is what I have been saved from. Such amazing grace!
- I was “foolish.” I was not understanding. I didn’t understand God. Although I had a moral code that came from my church upbringing, I thought I was a good person and that I didn’t need Jesus.
- I was “disobedient.” I went my own way, made my own rules. I thought I could live how I wanted.
- I was “led astray” by my own desires and by the ideas of the world around. I had no anchor in God.
- I was a “slave to various passions and pleasures.” This doesn’t mean that every unbeliever is out of control, but that it was our desires and our need of pleasure/comfort/security that guided us and not the Holy Spirit. For the Christian, the motivation is no longer self or pleasure, but Christ.
- I had “malice” (that means wickedness, evil) in my heart, wishing evil on others, especially those who had hurt me (see below) and those that had things that I thought they didn’t deserve. This is related to “envy”. I got upset if other people succeeded more than me. John Stott describes these two attitudes as “very ugly twins.”1
- I “hated”. Not everyone, but there were people in my past who had hurt me. But when Jesus saved me, that hatred was taken away – all by His grace – and relationships that had been full of hostility began to be changed.
What a list! But what amazing grace! Totally amazing grace that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
Spend some time today thinking about what Jesus has saved you from and lift your voice to praise Him.
1 John R. W. Stott, Guard the Truth: The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 202.