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The Foremost Sinner

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 Timothy 1:15 ESV

Humility. This is seemingly written on every page of the Bible in some form of fashion. Paul is speaking to Timothy (and to me) about not only the necessity of humility in this life, but it’s basic underlying truth of our salvation. The secret to Paul’s intimate relationship with Christ is that he never forgets what his fleshly nature is… A sinner… The foremost of sinners. And as Paul continued to mature in his faith and God continued to grant him revelation and deeper intimacy, his humility was strengthened alongside. God worked humility in Paul’s heart even as the gifts and blessings abounded in his life.

It’s counterintuitive to think this way for the most part. Especially in the world we live today. Everything around us is geared toward self-centeredness. Social media exists in large part to proclaim our pride and have attention focused on us. Even in our attempts of humility, we want everyone to see how humble we are. I see this in my own heart every day. The Lord wants me to lead a quiet life in joyful, humble obedience. I want everyone to know how humble and obedient I am. Not realizing the whole time that my humbleness is wrapped up in my own self-centeredness and pride.

The humbleness that Paul is talking about is ground in Jesus alone. It’s a humbleness acknowledging my complete and utter dependence upon Christ and his saving work on the cross. My humbleness comes not from the blessings and maturity of faith but from the understanding of who I was and still am – a sinner. It is only by God’s good grace and mercy that I am even drawing a single breath at this moment. Without his strength and steadfast love for me, I would wander away from Christ. Maturity in the faith is built upon this foundational truth that I am a rebellious sinner in need of God’s mercy all the time.

The times in my life where I have forgotten this truth are the times where God brought his rod of correction. It is those times of pride and arrogance leading to lust and coveting that draw me away from Christ. It’s the whisper of the world telling me how great and wonderful I am. Turning my obedience to Christ and his work being done through me into an opportunity to draw attention to myself and away from God. It gets easier and easier to accept the praise of man and neglect the worship of Christ.

As I reflect back I see this at work in my heart when I begin to turn my thoughts inward. Meaning that I acknowledge the gifts and skills that God has blessed me with and I am thankful to him for them, but in the same breath I accept the praise that comes along as mine. If God has gifted me with the skill to understand problems and provide solutions quickly and accurately, it is easy to accept the praise from those around me for “my” knowledge and wisdom in the matter. In my pride I acknowledge that God has given me this gift but I am also quick to accept the praise because “I” used this gift to figure out the solution and I therefore deserve the praise. I do this often enough and I become full of pride. I forget that the giver of the gift and skill deserves all the praise and glory.

This brings me back to humility. My thoughts should continually be on the glorious work of Christ. His mercy and grace working in and through me. That I am of low nature. Rebellious in my heart and in constant need of his steadfast love to hold me close. I need continual reminding that of the sinners in this world, I am the foremost.

Journal Entry // October 05, 2021

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