"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
Been there, Paul.
There is a glorious moment in the Christian life when we realize this - Man, I am the worst.
It is one of the most devastating, yet essential milestones we get to experience. We see our hearts for what they are, our thoughts for what they are, our motives for what they are - and there’s no unseeing it.
It can bring us to the pit of despair. But this is only half of humility.
So, what does Paul do with this realization? What lifts him from the pit?
The next verses read, “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. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:16-17
He does not continue to dwell on his past, but points to the mercy and glory of Christ in loving him out of it.
Earlier, in verses 13-14 Paul says, “Mercy kissed me, even though I used to be a blasphemer, a persecutor of believers, and a scorner of what turned out to be true. I was ignorant and didn’t know what I was doing. I was flooded with such incredible grace, like a river overflowing its banks, until I was full of faith and love for Jesus, the Anointed One!”
Paul persecuted, mocked, and killed Christians. It wasn’t a well-turned phrase or hearty sermon that turned his life around, it was the love of Christ that came “like a river overflowing its banks.” It was seeing that grace reached him when he was running from it. It was realizing, as Tim Keller says, “The only eyes in the universe who can see you to the bottom love you to the skies.”
That’s the other half of humility.
Yes, you are at the bottom. You are in the pit. But Christ, compelled by compassion, loves you and lifts you from it.
That is why Paul’s realization in verse 15 is so glorious. We must see the desolation of our soul to experience the ultimate weight of love and glory of Christ.
This humility - whole humility - is what makes David (an adulterer, a murderer, AND God’s beloved servant) sing with gratitude,
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Don’t cut the gift of humility in half. God’s mercy comes like a geyser to lift you from the pit of your own despair - because of His love and desire for you.
Author | Claire Jordan