I have frequently quoted 1 Timothy 1:15, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”
It is one of the places that Paul says “Here is a trustworthy statement.” That serves as a sort of highlighting of the words Paul is about to write so that we know their importance. Paul saw himself as the worst of sinners and that is exactly who Jesus came to save. I usually mention that God came to save each one of us no matter how bad we think we have become.
It was not until recently that I noticed the words that follow this verse. 1 Timothy 1:16 reads, “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”
In essence Paul says that God showed him mercy so that he could show everyone he encountered how wonderful the grace of God is to those who believe. Paul was a living example of the power of the gospel. He clearly saw God’s unlimited patience at work through every mistake he made.
Almost daily I hear someone confirm that we are all sinners. Each one of us openly acknowledges our lack of perfection when it comes to our relationship with God. Most people might not classify themselves as the worst of sinners publicly, but we all know our failures quite well. We sin and fall short of all that God desires for our lives.
Instead of trying to hide that truth Paul embraces it. He says that his life is an example of God’s mercy and patience to everyone. That does not mean he wallowed in his sin and never attempted to change. He simply used those moments of failure to point others to the grace of God.
Our lives may be full of sin but those times we fail are opportunities not only to receive grace but also to share mercy and grace. Christians need to be very clear that we are not perfect, in fact, that is why we are Christians. And the grace that fills our lives is available to everyone in Christ Jesus our Lord.