For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient,
led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures,
passing our days in malice and envy,
hated by others and hating one another.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness,
but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration
and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs
according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:3-7, ESV
I can tell by the highlighting, underlining, and notations in my Bible that I have read this passage many times and found it meaningful. But because God’s Word is living and breathing, well-loved passages that have been meaningful for one reason in the past often come alive with new meaning as I read them again and again. This time, three little words from this passage jumped out at me in a way they haven’t before. Three words I’ve read a million times and probably even committed to memory at some point: He saved us.
Paul begins verse 3 by reminding his readers (and me!) of our previous sin-filled state. I love that Paul uses the word “we”. He doesn’t see himself any better than any other sinner. Even with all his success and authority, he gives God all the credit. The list of sins Paul mentions is pretty daunting as he sets up a contrast by using the conjunction “but”–such a small word that means so much. The list reminds me just how sinful I was, but Paul follows it quickly with the best news! But God. God appeared. He showed up, purely out of His goodness and love, and HE SAVED ME. He could have acted differently. In fact, that’s exactly what I deserved. He should have punished me, damned me, banished me, turned from me. But He chose another action instead; He chose to SAVE.
And the best part? I did nothing to make myself more “saveable” or more worthy of God’s good and loving gift. I didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t earn it. But God. He chose to look past my failures and shortcomings. In His mercy, He saw an opportunity to do what only He could do: He saved me. I now stand justified, clothed with God’s righteousness, promised an inheritance of eternal life! The entirety of the gospel found in these three small words: He saved us.
Image credit: /r/Reformed