Earlier this week, I posted a rant on grace, how I was frustrated with it, bored with it, sick of both hearing about it and talking about it. I ended the post with, “I just don’t get it.” This morning, I read 1 Timothy 1:16, and the cookies came down a few shelves.
“But for that very reason I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”
Here’s an example of needing to know context. The “that” referred to be Paul is a part of the previous verse, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I (Paul) am the worst.” Paul’s not saying that he is the worst sinner ever to walk the earth, rather, he’s demonstrating a proper understanding of sin. When we understand the sin separates us from God, that all sins are equal in their ability to separate, that violating one is violating them all, separation from God is separation from God. Many believers have felt that they are the “worst of sinners”, that there is no hope for us.
Here’s what Paul is teaching us. Grace, is not about us. It’s not a matter of how much we can sin and still be in.
Grace, my friends, allows God to demonstrate to the the world around us that despite our willful choices to separate ourselves from God, He loves us and will be patient with us. Again, not so we can say, “I’m bad, but God loves me anyway”, but rather, “God loves us BECAUSE we are bad, BECAUSE we are lost, BECAUSE we are the worst of sinners.”
It is so easy for us to rationalize God’s love towards us because we are “doing right”. But that’s really not the point, because a) we’re not doing right, and b) we never could.
We, you and I, were shown mercy as a demonstration of God’s patience towards mankind. Why? So that mankind may see and experience who Jesus is and the power that he brings; that we and they might want to be a part of it. To what end? Eternal life with Him.
That’s why God shows mercy. Unlimited patience.
Because it’s Who He Is.
And my right response, our ONLY corect response, should be love, a love demonstrated by our obedience to Him…because said obedience is the power of His love.
Jesus came to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.