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Lesson 6: Humility

That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.

– Acts 8:1-3 (NRSV)

Devotion: Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17. Paul uses the phrase “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance” in his letters to introduce a doctrinal principle he feels is reliable. He uses the phrase before the statement, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Paul believes his own life is an excellent illustration of grace. Prior to converting to Christian faith, Paul is named “Saul,” and he persecutes the Church (Acts 8:1-3; Gal 1:13). He regrets those acts in his past but chooses to see them as a sign of God’s grace. Our sinful actions and regrettable moments do not have to be a source of humiliation forever. If we receive the mercy and forgiveness of God, we can use those moments to measure how far God has brought us. What are the low points in your past? Do those memories haunt or encourage you? Have you sought forgiveness and healing from God? How far has God brought you? Does guilt have too much power in your life? What step is God calling you to take next?

Personal Worship Option: Read Romans 7:14-25. You are not the only person who struggles with consistency. Which of your desires seem out of control? Who will rescue us from this predicament? Thanks be to God who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Sovereign! Spend time in prayer offering your life, good and bad, to God.

Dig A Little Deeper:

1:13 Compare Paul’s words to Philippians 3:6. Do good intentions make wrong actions less sinful? If Paul was zealous for God, trying to do the right thing, when he persecuted the church, does that change how God views him?

1:15 Paul might be quoting a saying from a hymn or a profession of faith in the early Church. Other possible quotations in 1 Timothy include 1:17; 3:16; and 6:15-16.

Humility leads Paul to admit his sinful actions. He considers himself the greatest of sinners (Eph 3:8). Is that the attitude all Christians should have? All sinful actions may not be equal, but if all sin emerges from rebellion against God, then are all people equally sinful?

1:17 Doxologies such as this one are also found in many of Paul’s writings (Gal 1:4-5; Eph 3:20-21; Rom 9:5, 16:25-27).

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