It is funny how, when faced with the sovereignty of God, we human beings so often want to know why. Why, knowing God is in control, did he allow a certain event to take place? Why does he not save a particularly rich and powerful person who could make life easier on the church? Or, perhaps, why would he save me?
1 Timothy 1:15-17 – 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Why would God save someone like me? After all, I have been a great sinner. I have thought and acted so foolishly for so much of my life. Why would he choose me?
When Paul was faced with that question, he felt much like many of us would feel if we were honest. When comparing ourselves to how the rest of the world seems, we see ourselves as chief among sinners. If there was a sinner team, we think we would be elected team captain. If there was a sinner army, we’d be generals. Why would God save people like us? We are not special. WE are not strong. We have not been good. Even saved, we do not bring good to the table.
But look at why Paul said that God saved him. God saved Paul so that “Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” Paul’s salvation is a testimony to the patience of God. Pauls’ salvation is a testimony to the fact that God can and will save anybody. Paul’s salvation is a reminder to the world that, if you are still breathing, you still have a chance.
And friends, how true is this of my salvation? How true is it of yours? I know that my life is a reminder that God is gracious to fools. My life is a proof that the Lord can take the rawest of raw materials and put it to his own use. Even now, I fully proclaim that if anything good ever comes out of me, it is all of God. I cannot steer my life. I cannot make good choices that build the kingdom. I have nothing to offer that he does not work through me. And thus, my salvation and my sanctification is to his glory from start to finish.
What is Paul’s response to that great salvation? Paul, after considering the patience of God and his salvation, writes, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” Paul, when he sees what a great sinner he was and that God saved him for God’s own purposes, breaks forth in praise. Paul glorifies the Lord because of the amazing way that the Lord would save a sinner like him. And this too should be our response. The more you realize that your salvation is not about you, not about what you can do for God, not about what you bring to the table, the more you will want to break forth in praise to the Lord who saves sinners like us. God is the one who saves. We are the ones who bring the sin into the equation. But, when God saves those who are chief among sinners, God is glorified, his patience and mercy and kindness are displayed, and we get the benefit of it all.