#DailyDevotion Do I Really See Myself As Chief Of Sinners?
1 Timothy 112I thank Christ Jesus, our Lord, whose power has been in me. He thought I could be trusted and appointed me to do His work 13although I used to slander, persecute, and shamefully mistreat Him. But He was merciful to me because, when I didn’t believe, I didn’t know what I was doing. 14Our Lord poured His grace on me, bringing faith and love in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a statement that can be trusted and deserves complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16 but God was merciful to me so that Jesus Christ would first show in me all His longsuffering and make me an example to those who are going to believe in Him and live forever. 17 To the everlasting King, the immortal, invisible, and only God, be honor and glory forever. Amen.
Paul thanks Christ Jesus, our Lord, who power is at work in him. That power is working in us who believe as well. It is renewing us daily, inwardly, even though outwardly we are wasting away. More often than not we don’t even perceive it because of our sinful flesh. Yet this power changed Paul who hated the Church and her Lord Jesus into someone who loved the Lord Jesus Christ and became a minster, a servant to the very Church he used to try to destroy. Paul used to slander, persecute and shamefully mistreat Christ, but not Christ while he was visible to us but rather Christ’s body, his disciples, with whom he is one.
Christ was merciful to Paul because when he was doing this he didn’t know what doing. Faith was not active him. As our Lord Jesus said from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Indeed, I don’t think any of us really know, I mean know intimately, down to our bones what we are doing when we sin because sin has so blinded us. We are blessed by Christ, like Paul, to have received his mercy and having been brought to faith and love in Christ Jesus to know his mercy and to have some idea of our offenses. Paul says that it is a statement that can be trusted and deserves full acceptance, Christ came into the world to save sinners and I am the worst of them. Most days, we as Christians accept that Christ came into the world to save sinners. We may believe that Paul indeed was the worst of them. But can we confess with Paul, “I am the worst of them.”? I know we often say that jokingly. But can you accept that personally? After all Paul didn’t know what he was doing when he was persecuting the Church. You have had the Holy Spirit, more often than not from infancy when you were baptized. You have known the Lord all this time, yet even with this knowledge, what have you done? How severe do you judge your own sins to be rebellion, treason and the like even though the world would not think much of them?
Maybe then again, you may have sinned and thought or maybe tormented by Satan that Jesus won’t forgive you this time. You have gone too far! Then we should look at St. Paul. He was a teacher of Israel and did not recognize his Messiah and King. He, as Saul, persecuted the Church and tried to wipe it out. Jesus was longsuffering to Paul to make him an example unto to us. If Jesus could have such mercy and kindness to one such as Paul, then he most certainly can and will be long suffering toward us who even sin after faith, we who would believe after St. Paul and live forever with him. No, there is nothing you can do that our Lord Jesus Christ that he will not hold out to you his hand and mercy and grace.
For this reason Paul can end this section with this doxology, i.e. the praise of his lips, “To the everlasting King, the immortal, invisible, and only God, be honor and glory forever. Amen.” That King and only God is our Lord Jesus Christ to whom all honor and glory be given for ever.
O Lord Jesus Christ, you have put forth St. Paul as an example of your longsuffering, mercy and kindness towards sinful humanity. May we always hold forth that example before our eyes that we may continuously come before you in humility with our sins and receive from you your mercy and grace that we may have a clean conscience and live out your love in our lives. In your glorious name we pray. Amen.