Meditations on 1 Timothy
“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
Paul is not a proud man. He is keenly aware of his blaspheming, persecuting, and violent past. Nor does he elevate his own righteousness above others. Rather, he acknowledges the extent of his sin for clearly, he is saying that he is one of the sinners who Christ came into the world to save. In fact, he views himself as the worst of all sinners.
What I love is that Paul does not stop to wallow here. It would have been easy for him to take the stance of, “Woe is me! I am the worst of sinners.” Instead, he immediately launches into the hope of Christ.
“But for that very reason, I was shown mercy.” In other words, Paul is saying that he was shown mercy because he was the worst of sinners. Paul knows that the message of Christ is so much deeper than just acknowledging our sin. It involves the mercy Christ shows us in spite of our sins. It is the hope we now have through Jesus Christ.
But why was mercy given? “… so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience…” In other words, mercy has been given to Paul so that Christ may shine in him. Christ is powerfully displayed in Paul through the transforming impact of mercy upon his life. For when the worst of sinners radically changes into one who became entrusted with the gospel of Christ, how can this not testify mightily of Christ? In he who was a blasphemer, in he who was a persecutor, in he who was a violent man, Christ’s mercy is now showcased. More specifically Christ’s patience is on display.
But what does Paul mean by, “Christ Jesus might display His immense patience…”? I believe Paul is referring to the patient love Christ has for each one of us while we are still wandering in our sins. Even though we may be clueless or have rejected the Truth, He loves us so much that He is willing to patiently wait for us. Like with the prodigal son, Christ eagerly longs and waits for our return.
Also, notice Paul says,” His immense patience.” Paul wanted to ensure that that we are aware Christ’s patience exceeds beyond the norm of what is typically expected or required…as does His love for us. It’s almost as if Paul is telling us,” If Christ can show me, the worst of sinners, immense patience, He can certainly have patience with you.” Christ’s loving patience abounds freely for everyone, even the worst of sinners.
But why is it important to display this great patience? So that, “Christ Jesus might display His immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life.” The patience which Christ gives serves as a model to which we can turn. It reveals Christ’s patience and lovingkindness to us so that even the foulest of sinners may inherit the hope of Christ and salvation. Paul serves as a physical tangible example of the redeeming work of Christ in our lives and the hope which Christ has to offer us.
All of this leads us to ponder several important questions. What example are we setting for our children, our family members, and friends? Do our lives reflect the transforming power of Christ Jesus in our thoughts and actions? Is our life a living testimony of God’s grace and mercy, patience and love to the unsaved and the lost? What are our lives reflecting? May God help us this day to live out a life which testifies to the love, mercy, and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.