Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15
There is an oft-heard story that The London Times posed a question to readers at the turn of the twentieth century. What’s wrong with the world?
That’s quite the question, isn’t it? Someone might quickly respond, “Well, how much time do you have for me to tell you?” And that would be fair, as there seems to be so much that’s wrong with our world. As the story goes, The Times received a number of responses, but one in particular has endured in its brief brilliance. The English writer, poet, and philosopher G. K. Chesterton penned this four-word response, a refreshing surprise to the usual passing-of-the-buck: “Dear Sirs, I am.”
Whether the story is factual or not is up for debate. But that response? It’s nothing but true. Long before Chesterton came along, there was an apostle named Paul. Far from a lifelong model citizen, Paul confessed his past shortcomings: “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man” (v. 13). After naming who Jesus came to save (“sinners”), he goes on to make a very Chesterton-like qualification: “of whom I am the worst” (v. 15). Paul knew exactly what was and is wrong with the world. And he further knew the only hope of making things right—“the grace of our Lord” (v. 14). What an amazing reality! This enduring truth lifts our eyes to the light of Christ’s saving love.
What is wrong with the world? Can you own the answer Paul and Chesterton gave? What is one way you can accept that without sliding into self-hatred?
God, thank You for Your immense patience with me, a sinner. To You be honor and glory forever and ever.
To learn about answering questions related to the Christian faith, visit ChristianUniversity.org/CA101.
In 1 Timothy 1:13, Paul recalled how some thirty years earlier he had mercilessly persecuted believers in Jesus, and yet Jesus had mercifully saved him on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1–19; 22:3–21; 26:9–18). He considered himself the least qualified and the most undeserving recipient of God’s mercy and grace (1 Timothy 1:13–14). Yet God told Ananias that Paul was to be His “chosen instrument” to take the gospel to the gentiles (Acts 9:15). Paul saw another reason God chose to save him: he was “a prime example of [God’s] great patience with even the worst sinners.” Because God saved Paul, “others [would] realize that they, too, can believe in [God] and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16 nlt). God had us in mind when He saved Paul—an amazing thought! Paul makes it clear that if Jesus could save and use him, the worst of sinners, then no one is beyond God’s mercy and saving grace.