What follows is the weekly meditation that I e-mail out every Sunday night or Monday morning (provided human fraility and distraction doesn't zap it from my mind)
Greetings in the Name of Christ Jesus our Lord!
Yesterday's Epistle lesson was 1 Timothy 1:12-17, which contains the famous verse 15 - "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost." This verse is also the basis for the famous hymn "Chief of Sinners Though I Be". Let us spend a few moments considering this verse.
Now, when Paul writes this verse, there are many things which people can point to demonstrating that he is the foremost sinner. He put Christians to death in the day - that's pretty big. And most of the time, when this verse in mentioned, folks jump to Paul's past. But note something - Paul isn't talking about the past. He doesn't say "of whom I WAS foremost" - rather - "of whom I *am* foremost." Paul isn't saying, "I used to be so bad, but now I am just awesome" - rather this. Paul is confessing that at this moment, right now, when he writes, he is a sinner, and a big one at that.
The wonder isn't that Paul is a sinner, but rather the wonder and amazing thing is that God loves Paul and Christ Jesus came to save even a wretch, present tense like Paul.
But this verse isn't about Paul. It's about you and I - and we can tell this by the introduction - "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance". This isn't just Paul talking about himself - this is a "saying" - something all Christians can and ought say about themselves - a saying worthy of full acceptance by all of us, that each of us should be able to say the same about ourselves.
A Christian, when he reads Scripture, when he sees God's law, will see his sin, will understand how wicked he actually is. And we will see it more in ourselves -- because we will see more and more of the little things in ourselves, while at the same time putting the best construction on the deeds of our neighbor - and so our sin will loom larger.
And so we confess it and flee to Christ Jesus who came into this world precisely to save sinners. And that is why the saying is trustworthy - for it points us again to Christ.
This week, be not afraid to examine yourself on the basis of Scripture - and know that when you do you will find sin, sin which you are to confess and struggle against. But again, know that even though you will find yourself to be the chief of sinners, Christ Jesus came to save you.