September 13

1 Timothy 1:15-17 

“The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.” vs. 15

During his ministry the gospels report that Jesus had a passion for sinners, those people who had been systematically excluded from full participation in religious activities. He regularly ate with them and didn’t hesitate to offer them healing and hope. Sometimes he told them directly that their sins had been forgiven. In his early years Paul would not have identified with sinners–he would have been quite at home with the righteous. But now that he had been personally exposed to the Light of Christ, he embraced a new identity–not only was he a sinner, he was the foremost of sinners! There are many who aren’t comfortable with such expressions of sinfulness–they’d rather think of themselves in more positive terms. In their minds, identifying as a sinner breeds self-loathing and generates poor self-esteem. But that certainly wasn’t the case for Paul and it needn’t be so for us either. Indeed, acknowledging our sinfulness opens the way for healing and a saving relationship with Jesus. We needn’t gloat about the awful things we’ve done, but neither should we be reluctant to admit that we’ve wandered away from goodness. As Paul says in Romans 3, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The good news is that in Christ such a confession includes us in the community of saints–and never excludes us!

Thought for the Day: Where do I rank in the hierarchy of sinners?

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