Paul liked to give his understudies neat little proverb-like gems of wisdom to take to heart as they carried out their own ministries. He recognized the value of placing an important principle in an easily opened package – of saying something that needed to be remembered in a way that his guys would remember it. He called them “faithful sayings”.
Here is the first:
“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” – 1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV)
Anyone desiring to serve the Lord can benefit from a deep awareness of their sin. It enhances our humility and keeps us conscious of the fact that we fully depend upon Christ. No matter how long or how well we serve Him – and Paul served better and longer than most – we should never get past the fact that we do so by His grace.
This is not a morbid focus on our own shortcomings and should never lead to that. This is good sense and extremely useful in ministry. As we, Christ’s servants, deal consistently with sin-filled people in sin-filled surroundings, it helps to keep in mind that we are sinners saved by grace.
Paul considered himself the “chief of sinners”. During his ministry he was accused of many things, but offhand I can’t think of a case he was accused of arrogant or hypocritical self-righteousness. Maybe there’s a connection?