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)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The sins of others always look worse than our own. It’s easy to look at the world and see a bunch of sinners far worse than me – the murderers, adulterers, thieves, liars. We read the news and think, “Thank God I’m not like those sinners out there.”
Jesus reminded the religious Pharisees that their own hearts were just as sin-filled as the sinners they judged. They imagined they were pure and holy for keeping God’s commandments, yet their hearts were filled with the same murder, adultery, theft, and lies they saw in others. It’s terribly easy to see that speck in the brother’s eye and not deal with the two-by-four in our own eye made out of the very same wood.
The apostle Paul sets a good example for us all. When it comes to sin, take the first seat as “chief of sinners.” Paul had good reason to say this. He was a blasphemer, a persecutor of Christians, a stubborn opponent of Christ. Yes, he acted out of ignorance in unbelief. But that’s no excuse, and Paul makes no excuses. He is the chief of sinners.
Yet God used Paul. He made an example of mercy out of him. The blasphemer becomes the baptized confessor. The persecutor becomes the defender of the faith. The stubborn opponent becomes the apostle of Christ. And this wasn’t Paul’s doing, but the grace of God that overflowed with faith and love in Christ. In Paul, God showed the world what it means to confess, “Christ Jesus came to save sinners.” Each of us can rightly confess the same thing. We are the worst of sinners. And Christ is always a greater Savior.
Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me. Died that I might live on high, Lives that I might never die. As the branch is to the vine, I am His, and He is mine. (Chief of Sinners Though I Be, LSB 611:1)