Links Daily Devotional

The Worst

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 unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16, NIV)

Golfers love pelting one another with on-the-spot questions: Are you ready for your match? How is your game? How do you feel with your swing? How’s your putting?

And before a big game, the last thing we want to say is, “Not really. My game isn’t so good right now.” No, we must look confident! In golf’s “supernatural” realm, we never want to jinx the day! Even though every golfer knows the outcome of the day could be anything (have you ever tried to predict your score and won that battle?), we would rather say a bit of a white lie instead of showing or admitting any weakness.

We must be careful, though, that this competitiveness and form of pride doesn’t creep into our spiritual life. Our culture constantly pushes “positive thinking” on usa type of placebo to try to help us think we are OK. We are told we must have high self-esteem, for that is the best way for humans to flourish.

But how are we to stay positive that when the Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)?

The problem is that we do not quite know where we belong, and how we should behave. Are we sinners? Yes. Are we beloved children of God? Yes. How can we be both? Dr. Timothy Keller, in The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, states: “We are not used to someone who is totally honest and totally aware of all sorts of moral flawsyet has incredible poise and confidence.” I think this is very true. We are used to people who are puffed up and people who are defeated.

In today’s passage, we find that Paul had no fear of saying he was the worst. But more than that, he meant it! In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote, “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people […]” He had no problem not being number one, because he was ever aware of his sin. He was completely honest about who he was. This was disarming. People could not respond to Paul: “Well, why would Christ rescue me? You are so much better than me!”

Humility that submits to Christ glorifies Christ; it shows the power and unlimited patience that Jesus has to save sinners. It transmits a great hope.

But Paul also, through his many writings, demonstrated an amazingly bold and confident person in Christ. David did the same, unveiling his great iniquity in Psalm 25:11; yet he called on the name of the Lord for forgiveness in boldness throughout. God was the lifter of his head (Psalm 3:3).

Jesus is always our best and true example, in that he came to suffer and die for us. He humbled himself fully to the will of his Father. That is no exalted place in this world. However, Christ’s name is above all names in heaven. To admit our sin and our need for a Savior is countercultural. No matter how much positive thinking I do, it cannot erase my sin, it cannot forgive it or wash it away. Only Jesus has the authority and power to do that. He is the true remedy for wretchedness.

This is the story of God’s gracethe worst are lifted up! Let us not be fearful to come to God with our weakness, and let him make us into a new creation. We cannot “jinx” God’s love for us by admitting our great iniquities, we cannot lose the match if we confess we need a Savior. Then, God himself will lift up our heads.

Isabelle Beisiegel

December 17, 2012

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