Chief of Sinners

Motorcycle by veggiefrog

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

1 Timothy 1:15

As I look at another bicycle and motorcycle season, I am looking forward to warmer weather and many miles in the saddle. And as the winter season ends, I find myself winding down my time on the internet, slowing up a bit as my research for the “perfect bicycle” comes to an end. I might add, I have not found the perfect bike and even if I had, my chances for purchasing one at this time would be very slim, because of the pandemic.

Looking for the perfect adventure touring bike that can accommodate all the bells and whistles is a daunting task of making comparison of literally hundreds of bikes on the market today. And trust me when I say this, it has taken me all winter to narrow my search for the elusive “do all” bike, down to what I think are three bikes that seem to fit my picture of the perfect bike. But at the same time I must admit, I have enjoyed the research. In the process I have learned a lot about bike geometry, bike components, and I value the fact (as my wife does) looking and research is free.

The fact is, comparing bikes, whether mountain, gravel, cycle cross, road, and touring, is just plain fun! And yes, there are that many different bikes and more. But when it comes to comparing ourselves to others… not so much fun. And it shouldn’t be fun. Yet, we do it all the time without really considering the outcome of our comparisons.

Think about it this way. We have tall people and not so tall people, skinny and not so skinny people, people with hair and people that used to have hair, and we have fast moving people and people who are not moving so fast these days…like me. Yet, I know, if I look hard enough, do a little research, I could find someone who is a lot slower than me.

When it comes to sinning and making a comparison between others and myself, I suppose I could always find that one person who is a bigger sinner than me. Here in lies another area of research for comparison we should at all times avoid. We might catch ourselves thinking, “I’m not as bad as her, after all, I have not done what she has done.” As if, that person’s sinful actions are the line that you haven’t crossed, therefore you are the lesser sinner.

Making comparisons between others and ourselves is dangerous for a number of reasons. Perhaps, we need to ask ourselves, why am I making comparisons? Am I making comparisons so that I will feel better about myself? Do I make comparisons so I don’t have to look at my many shortcomings? If I have my eyes on someone else, who am I not looking at?

The Apostle Paul didn’t mention anyone in particular, but he did say that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of who I am chief.” To say that he was “chief” means literally “first”, as if he went about comparing those around him and ranked himself number one. Let me try to paraphrase 1Timothy 1:15. “You can trust me when I say this, I have looked around, did my research and comparison, and now realize that there is not any greater sinner that Christ died for, than me personally. I am number one, I hold first place when it comes to being the greatest sinner that ever lived.”

So, was Paul the greatest sinner that ever lived before coming to Christ? Perhaps at that time he was. I don’t really know. What I do know, is that he did call himself a “blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.” Incidentally, an insolent man is one who is violently arrogant. Certainly, Paul proved his insolence by murdering Christians and throwing others into prison.

But there is a great lesson to be learned here as Paul makes his comparison between the unnamed and himself. That is Paul’s real contrast was not so much with others, as it was to showcase God’s abundant grace and love. Paul wanted those who were reading his first letter to Timothy to know that God’s mercy and longsuffering is extended toward all, “as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life (1Tim.1:16).

As we head toward Resurrection Sunday, I believe it is a good idea to revisit our life in comparison to Jesus Christ. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Cor.5:21) NIV

SOMEHWERE ALONG THE LINE—I am not sure when it happened, perhaps the day I accepted the Lord, but along the way, I became very aware of that I am the chief of sinners. When did it happen? The day when I compared myself to Jesus and realized that no good thing dwells in me and only by the grace of God do I have any right to stand in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And after all these years of living for Christ, I have not reached the level of human gratitude that exceeds His Divine Love. Perhaps the phrase, “chief of sinners” in comparison of the Savior falls a little flat when we compare ourselves to others. But when we focus on Him clearly, we come in first place as sinners…But by the grace of God!

This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN, wishing you Joy In Jesus!