“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 1:16
This verse begins with the phrase, “But for that very reason I was shown mercy…” What reason? To what is Paul referring? In order to grasp the full weight of Paul’s statement it helps to look back at the previous verse. It says:
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15
Can’t you sense Paul’s conviction…his passion in this letter to his beloved disciple Timothy? If highlighters existed in Bible times, I feel certain Paul would have highlighted, bolded, and underlined this statement – Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. That is the reason, Paul goes on to say, that he was shown mercy. Not because of anything in him, but because of the irrevocable truth that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
The Apostle Paul considered himself “the worst of sinners.” Despite how God used him and changed him, regardless of how many people followed Christ as a result of his ministry, Paul never let himself forget what he used to be…the worst of sinners. Paul describes his life as a showcase of God’s patience. It is not God’s grace, mercy, or kindness that Paul focuses on here, but His immense patience.
Paul holds up his life as an example of what God can do when we believe in Christ. He took a God-hater and made him a son. He took a murderer of Christians and made him a missionary. God’s patience is indeed unbelievable. All Christians should be able to say the same thing Paul did: “Look at my life as an example of God’s patience.”
Father, I praise Your Name for Your immense patience with me. You have given me countless reasons to trust and obey You, and yet I still wander, doubt, and struggle. Thank You for displaying Your goodness through my life despite my weaknesses. In Jesus’ name, amen.