Scripture: 2 Kings 1-3, Psalm 82, 1 Timothy 1

1 Timothy 1:15-16 This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life.

Observation/application

Paul believed himself to be the worst of sinners, possibly because he had persecuted Jesus’ followers and tried to stamp out the faith.  He was the Osama bin Laden of his day, arresting and murdering Christians in order to protect his Jewish faith and destroy another.  He celebrates the mercy, grace and patience of God that would save a sinner like him. He saw himself as a trophy of grace, an example of how far the mercy and grace of God would go.

I don’t think of myself as the worst of sinners.  In fact, I can think of many people who are far worse than me!  That is due in part to the early age at which I was saved (13).  Had I continued on the path I was on, I would have been much worse!  So I’m an example of the grace and mercy of God seen in saving someone at a young age before he made a complete hash of his life!  It’s a different expression of God’s mercy and grace—one for which I’m deeply grateful.

On the other hand, I think I may be the worst of sinners!  I’ve walked with Jesus since I was 13, and still wrestle with sins that I wish were long gone, but aren’t (eg: my selfishness).  I have moments when I feel I’m the worst—that I should be long past these sins, and the fact that I’m not reveals how deeply flawed I am.  But rather than beating myself up, it makes me all the more grateful for the grace and mercy of God that continues to save me.

Paul’s reflection on the gravity of his sin didn’t lead to depression but to praise.

1 Timothy 1:17 To the eternal King, immortal and invisible, the only God—to him be honor and glory for ever and ever! Amen.

In the same way, an honest assessment of my sinfulness shouldn’t lead me to depression or wanting to quit, but to praise to God for the depth of his mercy and grace.  Self-awareness leads to praise for God’s grace!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for choosing me, loving me, forgiving me—and for continuing to do that even when I fail.  To you be honor and glory for ever!