“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.”
1 Timothy 1:16
These words were written by the Apostle Paul to a young Christian leader named Timothy. In case you don’t know Paul’s history, here’s a quick summary. Paul was a Pharisee and a Roman citizen. That means that he was both a Jewish religious leader and also a citizen of Rome, who ruled over Israel at the time. He was a fierce enemy of Christianity immediately following Jesus’ death, killing and authorizing the killings of many Christians. He was widely feared, and with good reason. He was passionate about destroying Christianity, which he believed was blasphemy. All of that changed when one day, he was stopped on the road by a vision where Jesus appeared to him and he learned the gospel. He was struck blind for a few days, and when his sight was restored, he was baptized and immediately began preaching the gospel of Jesus.
So when Paul writes to Timothy saying that he was the worst of sinners, he certainly had good reason to say so. And it also makes his point all the more powerful. If Jesus could love and forgive the person that was responsible for the murder of several of his followers, then who would could possibly be disqualified? Paul says that he was shown mercy and saved so that God could use him as an example that all people, no matter how “bad,” can be saved through Jesus.
No matter who you are, this message is for you. If you’re not sure that you could ever become a Christian because of the things you’ve done or where you came from or the pain in your life, know that nothing is too much for Jesus to forgive, no one is too far gone, and nothing can make God stop loving you. If you are a Christian already, know that your past happened for a reason. Not only has God forgiven you, but he has also equipped you with the ability to not just forget or erase your past sins, but actually to use them as a source of hope for others.
How incredible is it that God can not only remove your sin from your life, but that he can even take those things that once held you down and hurt you and turn them into a tool to grow his kingdom even more!
So learn something from Paul today. If you think you’re too far gone, I promise you’re not. And if you’re a Christian, don’t be afraid to let God redeem your past into the hope for someone else’s future.
Thank you for this message of hope. I know that I am loved and forgiven, despite my sin and the shameful things of my past. I know that even in my future when I fall short, you will be able to redeem those things too. You give hope in all situations to all people and I am thankful for the forgiveness and the life I have through Jesus. Please let my life be a testament of your patience, love, and mercy.
In Jesus’ Name,