I am the least of the apostles …
1 Corinthians 15:9
Let’s start with Paul’s testimony regarding himself. The older he gets, the less he seems to think of himself! In today’s reading Paul notes, “I am the least of the apostles.” But later in his ministry he writes, “I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 3:8). He concludes late in life, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). Where does that leave us as we age?
We have to read Paul’s words in their entire context, though, including his testimony to God’s grace. To the Corinthians he adds, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” To the Ephesians he comments, “This grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). And to Timothy he declares, “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly” (1 Timothy 1:14).
Paul’s testimony of himself—bad, worse, worst. His testimony of God’s grace—good, better, best. Which testimony is more important? Which testimony has the final word? Which testimony should shape our emotions? Which testimony will take us through today? Which testimony determines our eternal destiny?
Praise God, we know the answer!
God of abounding grace, we give thanks today that your good grace negates our bad, your better grace overcomes our worse, and your best grace obliterates our worst. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.
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