Paul’s honesty about himself comes into view in chapter 1. He was the “foremost” of sinners. And God saved Paul to show the “perfect patience” of Jesus Christ.
Even the most wretched of people can be saved because Jesus Christ’s patience is perfect.
It makes us go back to the list of sins laid out in verses 9-10. We see the lawless and disobedient, the ungodly and sinners, the unholy and profane, those who strike their fathers and mothers, murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and “whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”
Can you see yourself in that list? Surely, there’s at least one sin to which you can admit. Do any of these vices ring true in your life?
As Christians, we are striving for a closer walk with Christ. We are reaching out for a life of greater peace and wisdom. Can we do that if we can’t see the perfect patience of Jesus Christ – the God who could show mercy to sinners like us?
We live in a culture that likes to build people up. There’s an entire generation now that sometimes is called the “trophy” generation. This is where every kid on the baseball team gets a trophy – not because of exceptional play or because the team won a championship but because we don’t want to make any one kid feel bad or left out. Everyone is a winner!
There’s some surface-level good about this. There’s also something dangerous about this. The danger comes in the lack of honesty that is built into such a system. Not every kid deserves a trophy. Some kids are terrible baseball players. And some kids have terrible attitudes. And some teams never win a single game.
Being a Christian means we honestly admit to God the reality of who we are. We are sinners.
Paul wanted us to know that if Jesus Christ offered mercy to him – the foremost of sinners – then Jesus Christ is offering mercy to us as well.
Really, the humbling of ourselves is the very first step in our Christian walk. If we don’t take that step, we can’t take any others. First, we need to see the undeserved gift of salvation that’s been given to us.
It is at that point the story becomes good news – because then the story is all about Jesus and not about us.