Love for a Sinner
I am a liar. I am selfish. I struggle with jealousy. I think bad thoughts. I am a sinner.
I’m actually the worst sinner there has ever been.
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 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. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
I read 1 Timothy chapter 1 the other day and, when I read this part of it, I had to read it again. “...that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” The Apostle Paul says that he is the foremost, or worst, of sinners. The man wrote most of the New Testament. How could he possibly be the worst sinner?
But that is the key. We should all view ourselves this way. Oftentimes, I will look at all the evil in the world and think, “I’m really not that bad. I try to be a good person.” But I can’t compare myself to other people. God isn’t going to look at me and see how I stack up against my next door neighbor (and thank goodness for that because Mrs. Eleanor is a Jesus-loving, church running, little old lady who would kick my butt). Instead of comparing ourselves to each other, we need to be comparing ourselves to Jesus. And compared to someone who lived a perfect life and never sinned... I don’t stack up so well. And neither do you. Or any of us.
So, that’s why I started by saying that I’m a sinner. I admit it. I can’t be perfect no matter how hard I try. But Jesus came to this earth and did live a perfect life so that he could save us anyway.
He also calls imperfect people like Abraham, like Moses, like David, like the Apostle Paul, like me. Like you. He calls us to follow Him and to not worry or feel guilty about not being perfect, but to instead spread this good news to others who don’t know what He came to do for us.
Look what Paul says in the next sentence: “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.” Not only did he call himself the worst sinner, he also acknowledges he received the most mercy. Why? Two reasons: 1) Paul was willing to admit he was a sinner and knew Jesus was perfect in every way, and 2) Jesus was able to do a mighty work in his life and through that others could come to know Him and His perfect patience, mercy, and love. These are two reasons Jesus will practice His “perfect patience” with you, too.
Stop trying to think about how good you are and remember how good God is! I’ve messed up so many times that He could’ve zapped me and ended me right then and there, but I received grace and mercy I didn’t deserve.
In a nation where we are taught to believe in ourselves and that we can be and do anything, we forgot to remember that God blessed us. Look what’s happening to us now. Did pride get in our way? We stopped thanking God for our blessings and instead thanked ourselves and told ourselves how we earned these things without His help.
It’s time to repent, friends. I’ll start. Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. The worst one, in fact. Lord, please forgive me. Thank you for showing me grace even though I don’t deserve it.
If we can lay down our pride, we can help others to see the love of Jesus. And that love will change this world.