This is what God gave me today in His word:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
Now, this passage can seem a little foreboding at first. After all, if Paul was the foremost among sinners, what can we call ourselves? Now, it is true that Paul persecuted that Church (and so has some reason to try to call himself chief of sinners) it’s also true that none of us wrote a healthy portion of the New Testament. Nor, for that matter, have any of us in all likelihood been stoned, beaten, or imprisoned for the Gospel.
Yet, something we need to realize, is that Paul’s doing all those things (or having them done to him) didn’t have any impact on his actual salvation. It probably had a very significant impact on his faith, but did nothing towards saving him. – Paul was someone who recognized that no good deed he could do could ever compensate for even a single sin in God’s eyes. It’s only by Jesus’ death and Resurrection that both his and our sins could ever be wiped away. In fact, he essentially reminds us of his this fact here in 1 Timothy:
“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”
Paul has a sense of his own depravity. He realized that Jesus’ saving him was really a miracle in patience. We all should, at least to some extent, think on how bad we really were. We should realize our own depravity, as Paul did. But we should also never stop there. Rather, we should do what Paul does in the very next verse:
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1: 17)
Yes we were wicked, but God is good, and he forgave us our wickedness! We need to constantly remember this; to constantly remember that though we were lost in our sin, Jesus chose to come and die so that we can live forever. It’s only by Him and Him alone that we can live a life to God.
You are Loved!