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Devotional: November 10, 2021

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.16But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life.

First Timothy 1: 15-16 NRSV

Why did Jesus come to us? The Apostle Paul answers that question by focusing upon the mission of Jesus: to save sinners. Some might say this sentence is an arrogant statement, as though others need saving, but not the one who utters such words. However, Paul is tremendously humble. He states that if you were to rank all of the sinners in the world, he would be the absolute worst! The Message translation even characterizes Paul as admitting that he is “Public Sinner Number One!”

Yet Paul doesn’t seem to be destroyed by his past sin. Instead, he points to his terrible sins in the past, but present salvation, as evidence of God’s incredible mercy. Paul sees the dramatic change as evidence of God’s amazing grace.

I see within Paul’s twin statements a word of grace for all of us. God is saying to us, through Paul, that we should not worry about having been a bad example in the past. Instead, we should trust God to make us good examples of His patience, forgiveness, and transformative power in the present. This is especially true as we look towards the future.

None of us can change our past. We might like to erase our history of sin, but we couldn’t even if we tried. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we trust that we are completely forgiven by God. Completely forgiven: God has no memory of our past sins. The Lord wants us focused on the present, rejoicing in His saving, transformative power. Yes, even the worst of us are saved by God’s grace. Our part of the transaction is simply to trust Him.

So don’t focus on the past, and the sin and errors you have made. It can be easy to hit the rewind button, but we are told we do not need to do so. Focus on moving forward, and using what you know now. Allow God to make you a wonderful example to others of His forgiveness and grace.

Having received that grace and mercy, we are then required to pass on that love, grace, and forgiveness to others. Forgive others even if they have harmed us, or do not even acknowledge what they have done. It is not our place to judge. Instead, accept others and show them the love we needed as sinners, and still need to this day. As recipients of God’s grace, let us all share that same grace with the world, letting His light shine through us. Amen!

Prayer

God of all time,

I confess that far too often, it is easy to live in the past. I remember endlessly all the wrongs I have committed, and the wrongs others have committed against me. When I am stuck in that rut, remind me of Your grace, and Your complete forgiveness. Help me to move on, realizing that Your love and grace are for me. You forgive me because I need it, but also as a witness for all the world to see. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

PS 30 Days of Gratitude Exercise:

Name and give thanks for the biggest gift in your life right now.

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