Not only did Jesus knock Paul off his horse on the road to Damascus, he knocked the self-righteous stuffing out of him as well. The proud Pharisee came to see himself as the worst sinner he knew.
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost (1 TI 1.15).
Was Paul exaggerating for shock value? Or was he some kind of self-loathing Eeyore who needed a big dose of self-esteem?
No. Paul realized that every sin is infinitely evil, because it is against an infinitely holy God, and requires the infinitely perfect blood of Christ to remove it. He simply had a realistic view of his own sinfulness.
When I view myself as the foremost of sinners, it’s so much easier to forgive others, because no matter what they may do to me, I’ve done worse to God, yet he saved and forgave me.
I crucified Christ.
My sins ripped the flesh off his back, rammed the thorns into his head and hammered the spikes into his hands and feet.
I’m the biggest sinner in the house.
I’m the foremost sinner in my marriage: How can I not forgive my wife when God has forgiven me for slaughtering Jesus, the apple of his eye?
Foremost sinner in my family: How can I fume at my kids, when I’ve jilted God longer than they’ve been breathing, and still do despite all the years I’ve read the Bible, listened to sermons and received innumerable blessings?
Foremost sinner in my church: How can I smolder against my brother’s sins, when my mountains of iniquity have been washed away by Christ’s blood?
Maybe people have hurt you deeply and you’ve suffered much. Though it may be difficult, ask Jesus today for grace to see yourself as the foremost of sinners, and for grace to forgive, as he has forgiven you.
photo by pterantula