In which I am at the top of the heap

by Craig on December 2, 2012


Once, when I was an arrogant man at the beginning of this whole Christian thing, I read these words of Paul and I didn’t get them.

This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost. (1Tim 1:15)

I had heard Christians call themselves sinners and I liked that about as much as vinegar on top of ice cream; and it didn’t make sense to me that the paragon of Christianity, the Apostle Paul, would be the worst sinner around.

On top of that, it all just seemed like plain bad PR.

First, there was this thing about Christians being sinners. I thought…
“That’s not right. Christians are saved – everyone else is a sinner.”

But no…
We. Are. All. Sinners.
One sin makes us a sinner.

Mother Theresa was a sinner…
and Billy Graham, and the Pope.

The differences between sinner and saved sinner are at least two fold.

As a believing Christian I aim not to sin.
If I’m not doing a very good job of avoiding sin, I’m not being Christian.
Am I perfect? No. But my life should be marked by much more right…then wrong.

And then, when I fall short with my best efforts…
that’s when the Grace of God follows repentance.


Without faith there is aiming at wrong, not right.
Without Grace there is no forgiveness for imperfection or sin.

It’s a pretty stark difference between being with God and not…

this wrong aiming thing…
and this unforgiven state.

Then there’s what Paul wrote, “foremost among sinners”.

He was an early church superstar.
How could he be the worst of all sinners?

It puzzled me…until it hit me.

At first I thought, maybe it was because he had been such an opponent of Christianity. Except that’s not it. He used the present tense, “I am foremost”.

I think it’s not that he sinned more than anyone else. He was just more aware of sin.

The more light there is…
and the more light we are
the darker the darkness appears…
and the more more powerful is the conviction.


If we sin like crazy but have no conviction we don’t even consider ourselves as sinners.

I’m foremost among sinners…
operating against my design.

Lord, help me…
to love You better…
to love others better…
to mess up a lot less…
and soar a little more.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Orlando December 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Wow! You made Paul’s statement so clear. Definitely, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. May we, like Paul, become distinctly aware of our failings and ask God for forgiveness and strength to do His will.
Blessings, Craig!


Debbie December 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Loved this and how you explained it , Craig! God bless you as love and soar more!


A. December 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm

And that quote by Begg really filled a niche, answered a question I have had regarding a certain situation….thank you, and for the entire post, as well, Craig!


Sylvia R December 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I read your title in my email, and clicking the link to here, was surprised by the illustration — to laughter. And I thought, “Well, I’m right up there with you!”
But what a lot of good biblical truth and wisdom in this post. So good to read it!


Katie December 6, 2012 at 11:33 pm

I so understand this and where Paul was coming from. I have been pondering these words and my own sin a lot lately. I see it all, so much right there in front of me and it is overwhelming. Realizing that I am not facing my sin alone — God is right there with me, my sin in front of me, his arm around me, facing my sin with me — (from True Faced). Realizing this again this week, if not for grace I would be buried with rocks and boulder, but the grace allows me to soar.


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