The Chief of Sinners

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 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 for ever and ever. Amen.” — 1 Timothy 1:15-17


This is the only error I can find in the Bible. Paul was not the chief of sinners. I am! Do you ever feel this way? This morning I was reading Charles Spurgeon’s Morning/Evening devotional. He begins with 2 Samuel 9:8, “Mephibosheth bowed down and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?'” Mephibosheth was the son of King David’s best friend, Jonathan, the son of King Saul. Jonathan and Saul were both killed in a battle which eventually led to David rising to the throne of Israel. As King, he wanted to honor his lost friend. So, he invited Mephibosheth, who had been crippled in an accident, to come and dine at his table for as long as he lived. Imagine that! A crippled man invited to dine at the King’s table forever.

I’m a crippled man. And yet, God invited me to dine at his table long ago when I was only about ten years old. At the time, I did not realize how truly crippled I really am. It has only been in the last five to ten years that I have seen the depth of my sin and the depravity of my own heart. Spurgeon writes:

If Mephibosheth was thus humbled by David’s kindness, what shall we be in the presence of our gracious Lord? The more grace we have, the less we shall think of ourselves, for grace, like light, reveals our impurity. Eminent saints have scarcely known to what to compare themselves, their sense of unworthiness has been so clear and keen. “I am,” says Samuel Rutherford, “a dry and withered branch, a piece of dead carcass, dry bones, and not able to step over straw.” … At best, we are but clay, animated dust, mere walking hillocks; but viewed as sinners, we are monsters indeed. Let it be published in heaven as a wonder, that the Lord Jesus should set His heart’s love upon such as we are. Dust and ashes though we be, we must and will magnify the exceeding greatness of his grace. [i]

It has been said the closer you get to the Light, the more you see your sin. That has certainly proven true with me. In spite of this painful revelation, I find more and more delight and joy in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I marvel more and more at His incomprehensible and immeasurable grace. I hope and pray you have experienced this same revelation about yourself. I do not languish in the memory and pain of past sins. Instead, like Paul, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12b-14).

I marvel at the grace of God. I praise the Lord that He delights in showing mercy. And I look forward to the day when, face to face, I can thank Jesus over and over again for His grace and mercy towards me.

[i] C.H. Spurgeon, Morning-Evening Daily Readings by C.H. Spurgeon (Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2012), 315.