1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV84)
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
Is there someone in the Bible with whom you can really relate? Maybe someone whose experiences in life sound a bit similar to your own? Maybe you identify with Moses, who wasn’t sure of himself when God gave him a really important calling. Or maybe Martha, who wanted to serve Jesus, but sometimes needed a reminder that she just needed to stop working and spend some time in God’s Word. Maybe your struggle is more like that of Elijah, who was prone to bouts of depression. Maybe you relate well to John the Baptist, who slept outdoors and ate insects. Maybe not.
But how about the writer of today’s verse, the Apostle Paul. Can you relate to him? He wrote 13 books in the New Testament, went on three different and difficult missionary journeys, raised people from the dead, gave birth to brand new churches, restored life to dying people, served as traveling pastor to countless different congregations, defended Jesus in front of powerful governments and hostile crowds who wanted to kill him, and, in his spare time, he made tents. Can you relate to Paul?
Probably not. Paul was one of the greatest missionaries, church starters, letter writers, all while being one of the greatest theologians the world has ever seen. Maybe you can’t relate to God’s Apostle in those ways, but you do relate to him in another way.
God looks at you in the same way he looked at the Apostle Paul. In Paul’s letter to a young pastor named Timothy, Paul describes the two ways we can relate to Paul and every Christian for that matter. He says, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
We know Paul sinned. In his early life, Paul sinned against God and His Church in very open and public ways, which is why so many people in the early church didn’t want to accept him. So Paul openly admitted it. He says, “I am the worst.” Notice he didn’t say, “I was the worst,” as if after the Holy Spirit brought him to faith, his sin was now gone. “I am the worst.”
What Paul said was true. That title belonged to him. Just as it belongs to you and to me. Paul called himself the worst of sinners because he knew that any little sin, no matter how it compares to the sins of anyone else, separates you from God.
But Paul also knew something else. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” Are you a sinner? Then you can relate to Paul in that Jesus Christ went to Calvary to save you. Do you think you’re unworthy of your callings? Paul was too. Do you think you’ve done some terrible things in your life? Paul did too. And he wasn’t shy about talking about it. He didn’t hesitate to tell others about his sin because it only emphasized all the more the grace, mercy, and power of God, in the resurrected Christ.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we praise you for your forgiveness in Jesus. Like you did with Paul, tell us the truth about our lives. Convict us of our sins so that we might repent and, in Jesus, see the forgiveness that is freely ours. Amen.