Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:15-16 (NIV)
Read: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Consider: If you’ve ever been asked what is the point of Christmas, Paul gives a very concise statement of its purpose in 1 Timothy 1:15 – Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. So if anyone asks you about Christmas and what you believe as a Christian, then you can say “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.
Paul was very conscious of his own sinful nature, declaring of his own sinfulness ‘… of whom I am the worst’ (v15). Paul knew that his persecution of the early church was not something to be proud of, yet despite this God called him to be a witness for Christ. Paul’s story is one of God’s mercy being poured out on him and Christ’s immense patience being shown to him.
Paul did not see his salvation in isolation, but saw it as part of God’s plan to bring the good news of the gospel to a wider audience. Paul considered that his life was ‘.. an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life’ (v16). Paul knew that his conversion was a striking example of God choosing the most unlikely of people to save and use in bringing his message of salvation to the world.
Do you see yourself as an example that can show those around you God’s mercy and patience in your life? Perhaps like Paul you had a dramatic conversion and this has caused those who know you to be inquisitive about your faith. Conversely, your conversion might have been slow and undramatic, making you think that you are unlikely to be seen as an example. Whether your conversion was dramatic or undramatic, we each have the opportunity to live our lives in a distinctive way that arouses the curiosity of those we interact with.
In 1 Peter 3:15 we read: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect …’ I also like how Paul puts it in Colossians 4:6 – Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Pray: Father, may we be examples to the world of your mercy and patience, allowing our lives to be distinctive witnesses for you. May our Christmas preparations and festivities show clearly to the world that we are yours. Amen
Next: #14. Advent Reflections – God’s indescribable gift!