Some people are quite proud of their humility. Others are consumed with tracking their ever-fluctuating level of self-esteem. The apostle Paul was in neither category.
When he declared himself to be the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), he was not being pretentious or hyperbolic. He was being 100% genuine. He rightfully felt in no way worthy of the exceedingly abundant grace Christ had towards him when He took a former blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent (violently arrogant) man and counted him faithful by putting into the preaching and apostolic ministries (1 Timothy 1:12-14).
Paul’s focus was not upon himself and whether he had a “healthy self-esteem”. He was too overwhelmed by the splendor and wonder of Christ’s mercy, grace, and longsuffering.
His was the ultimate test of Christ’s absolute ability to save sinners, and Jesus passed with flying colors. Such power and grace left Paul focused on the glory and honor of the eternal, immortal, invisible King, not something petty like himself or his self-esteem.
In Ephesians 3:8 the apostle Paul candidly states himself to be “less than the least of all saints”. Here again is no pretense or false humility.
When Paul considered the incredible treasure of the gospel—the mystery of God’s salvation of all humanity via one Savior—and the role assigned him to be an earthen vessel of it, he was overwhelmed with genuine humility.
To be a firsthand witness of the effective working of Christ’s power to convert spiritual criminals into sons, and then transform sinners into saints was indescribably stupendous. To be entrusted with the responsibility of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ and to make all see the wondrous blessings and manifold wisdom found in God’s final dispensation of His will ever fueled Paul’s abject humility.
The chief of sinners. Less than the least of all saints.
Paul’s humility was genuine because he accurately saw His Lord and himself.
What about you?