1 Timothy 1:15
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.
Paul begins his letter to Timothy and reminds him of why he charged his son in the faith to stay in Ephesus; to protect doctrine. He then continues about the grace of God and the law. He then gets personal. This statement is both clarifying and applicable. “Jesus came to save sinners, me being the worst”.
Wow. If we ever wondered why Jesus came, the answer is right here. Some would say Jesus came to show us the way to love. Some would say Jesus came to show us how to treat people. Others would say Jesus came to start the church. Others would say Jesus came to teach, preach, heal, etc. All of these were accomplished in Christ, however not the chief reason for the coming, suffering and resurrection of Jesus. That was done for salvation. Jesus came to save. Save who? Sinners.
Now a couple things…
-What is a sinner? Of course it has to be the people described in the verses 9-10.
“understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,”
This in fact is true. But we also find that this list is only part of the description of a sinner.
-Sinners are religious too. People who allow their religion to guide them towards judgment of others, blind zealousness, non-practicing theologians, Monday morning atheists. People who fill our churches, vote republican and quote scripture. When Paul refers to himself as the chief of sinners, he doesn’t do this lightly. He does it with a clarity that comes only from humility and true brokenness. When confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul was physically blinded but spiritually enlightened of his true standing before God. Jesus confronted him and called him to a new life, made possible only through grace.
This is true for me today as well. I am nothing without grace. My sins are just as bad or disqualifying as the lists that make a church lady blush. However, I am not defined by that anymore. I am defined by grace. As I lead I must not:
-forget where I came from.
-allow the church to forget where we came from
-allow the church to church to rank sins
-allow people to disqualify themselves
Father I thank you for this morning reminder of why you came, who you came for, and that no one is too far gone.