“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.”
~1 Timothy 1:15 (NRSV)
The experience of mercy at the loving hand God is known, in the instant recognition of the way we were; indeed, the way we still are. Salvation was never just a once-off deal; we need saving continually. Yet, by the mercy and grace of God, by our once-off acceptance, we are saved. Let there be no quibbling about it.
We were sinners, and continue to be, due our nature; the propensity to sin.
Ever more does this propound the worthiness of the mercy of God, and the gratitude that’s due to God in recompense—if that is, indeed, the right word—for salvation.
Gratitude Invites And Evokes Humility
The implicit gratitude of the sinner of all sinners—Paul, the apostle—has been stated, here above, and elsewhere throughout the New Testament in Paul’s writings.
And if by way of hyperbole, to exaggerate a case to highlight its truth, Paul commends all the more this all-sufficient grace of God to save anyone, anywhere, any time. By way of this wondrous truth, that nothing can encapsulate or limit the totality of Divine mercy, we can know some definitive sense of the gratitude that peels away as the anointed byproduct of such wonder.
Gratitude has a purpose. It invites, as well is evokes, humility.
Gratitude and our sinfulness coexist together, generating the right balance which compels us toward humility.
The Right Balance Of Our Sinfulness Toward Humility
There are some that devalue the role of their sin, whilst others overvalue it. If we were to focus too much on our sinful nature we’d condemn ourselves beyond the will of God, yet if we made light of it we’d not achieve the will of God—that we might worship in Spirit and truth.
A balance must be struck, for beneficial measure, regarding our sinfulness, and how God might use such imperfection to call to all humanity towards glory.
When we see our sinfulness in the right way it corresponds that God is to be praised. In this very moment we’re saved. This is the moment of salvation: knowledge of our true selves that would, hence, lead us to repentance; the forgiveness of our sins. Repentance is brought about by the moment’s humility. Such poise for humility redeems, also, gratitude. These concepts are circular as they are virtuous.
When we remember, like Paul, that we’re the ‘worst of sinners’ it highlights God’s mercy and grace all the more. This compels us to gratitude and fuels our efforts toward humility. We’re then most able to love, because God’s compassion for us makes us compassionate to our kind.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.