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 1:1-20
Consider: When Paul writes to Timothy he isn’t afraid to face up to his past. He describes himself in this way: ‘… I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man …’ (1:13) and ‘… the worst of sinners …’ What changed in Paul was not his view of himself, but the fact that he came to know and accept God’s mercy. Listen to his own words concerning this: ‘I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief’ (1:13), ‘The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly …’ (1:14) and ‘… for that very reason I was shown mercy …’ (1:16).
Paul’s awareness of his own unworthiness is contrasted in this passage from Timothy against God’s:
– immense patience.
Paul also knew that the change that God brought about in his life was a powerful witness to those who knew, or heard about, him. Of course Paul would have preferred that he had not been the man he was before his conversion, but God had other ideas. Thankfully God had mercy on Paul and turned a God-hater into someone who would have an enormous impact on the spread of the gospel. Here is how Paul talks about this: 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 (1:16).
Never underestimate God’s willingness to be patient with those who seem to ignore his call to repentance. Also never underestimate the impact a person’s conversion can have on those who knew their old way of life and how they now live for God.
Pray: Father, thank you that you show immense patience towards those who are indifferent to you. May your Holy Spirit work in their hearts so that they come to know your grace and mercy. Amen