Chief of Sinners!
I may have shared this with some of you before, but I think for the purpose of this devotion and its message I will repeat it. Many years ago, when I was a member of a Lutheran congregation in Nebraska, my Pastor, who is surprisingly still a good friend of mine, use to jokingly say to people “chief of sinners though I be Dave McCarty is worse than me”. Now I am sure he was just joking (at least I hope anyway), yet it does bring to light a problem that many Christians face in their walk of faith.
What is the problem I am referring to? Well, dear brothers and sisters, it has to do with the temptation we are all confronted with, at one time or another, to take on a self-righteous attitude when labeling other people as disgusting sinners. This can happen so easily as we consider ourselves in light of who we think we are in comparison to those we are being critically judgmental about. “I may not be perfect, but I am not as bad of a person as that guy or gal!”
In reality, if we were to judge ourselves against what the Lord demands of those created in His image, we are all guaranteed to fall far short of the established standard He has set forth. Not one of us could ever stand up against such scrutiny and expectations. The truth of such a pathetic situation is something very few people of God want to be made aware of. It is easier for us to be able to build ourselves up by seeing and highlighting the sins and faults of others.
The Apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy reveals the wretched and condemned person he was before knowing Jesus as his Lord and Savior. “Though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent of Christ.” Paul goes on to admit, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Timothy 1:13, 15 Paul, in being confronted by his Lord, was forced to face his failings, rebellion, and resistance to the Gospel. And it was at that point Jesus began to change the heart of this persecutor of Christ and His followers, and reform him into one of the greatest Christian evangelists the world has ever known.
Jesus was accused, by the Pharisees, of eating with and associating with sinners. He was attacked and condemned for acting in such a manner. Yet, these were the very ones He came to seek and save. Jesus said in Matthew 9:12-13, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The fact is this: All of us are sick in one sinful way or another, the only problem is some of us are not willing to admit it! Acknowledging our sad and sinful condition is the first step. Repenting of those sinful thoughts and actions is the next step. And crying out to the Lord, in the name of Jesus, for His mercy and forgiveness, is where healing truly manifests itself. Jesus came to heal the sinner through His life, death, and resurrection, and in Him there is reconciliation with the Father.
Maybe my former Pastor was right about me after all, but thank you Jesus that I have forgiveness, life, and salvation in Your most holy and precious name!!!!!!! Pastor McCarty