I became a Christian at age 32. For 40 years now I’ve tried every year to be a “better” Christian.  I tried to read my Bible faithfully. I memorized verses. I faithfully attended Church and Christian fellowships. I’ve tithed and more! All of which I thought should help me grow and become a better Christian. But I think I missed the mark. Now at 72, I’m changing my ideas about what it means to be a “better” Christian. Now, I’d argue that it involves a deeper appreciation of my sinfulness and a greater understanding of the depths of God’s love and grace He showed to me on the Cross of Calvary.

In about 54 AD, Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said in his first letter (15:9), “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle…” He clearly acknowledged that he wasn’t all that great but still focused on his apostleship. Then about a decade later he writes to the Ephesians (3:8), “I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people…” Not only was he the lessor of all the other apostles but after a decade of trying harder, instead of seeing himself as a better person, he sees himself as a lessor believer. Then finally before his death he writes to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:15) and says, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” Did you notice the progress or should I say “regress?” The older Paul got, the longer he spent as a Christian, the deeper he appreciated his sinfulness and not his goodness.

That last verse adds an interesting thought. “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” What does he mean by that? Does he think that Timothy and others should see and acknowledge Paul as the greatest of all sinners? I don’t think so. I believe Paul is telling Timothy what happens as you grow in your faith. Everyone should recognize the depths of their sinfulness and truly increase in their appreciation for God’s grace to sinners! Finally, at 72, I think I have a stronger inkling that I might be the worst of all sinners!