I am the worst of . . . all [sinners] (v.15).
In 1939, General Motors created a “ghost car”—a transparent vehicle with a body made of Plexiglas. The see-through outer shell of the Pontiac Deluxe Six revealed a custom chrome-plated dashboard, a spare tire lodged in the trunk, and even the door-locking mechanisms. The “ghost car” debuted at the New York World’s Fair and then traveled to various dealerships before finding a semipermanent parking spot inside the Smithsonian Institute. In 2011, it sold at an auction for $308,000.
People today place high value on transparency, and not just when it comes to cars. I’m talking about the relational quality of talking freely about past or present doubts, shortcomings, and struggles.
Paul modeled this quality in a letter he wrote to Timothy. He admitted to blaspheming the name of Christ, and even hunting down and hurting believers in Jesus (1 Timothy 1:13). Telling Timothy about his dark days might not have been easy for the apostle, for Paul called Timothy his “true son in the faith” (v.2). As the older, wiser one, Paul truly showed vulnerability as he admitted his past sins.
However, he referenced his transgressions to teach a younger, less-experienced person about God. He noted that God had mercy on him because he had sinned “in ignorance and unbelief” (v.13). Still, the ugliness of his actions highlighted God’s character. Paul said God was generous. God was gracious. God was able to fill him with faith and love through Christ (v.14). God was patient (v.16).
The risk of being real with people can be nerve-racking. We may wonder, What will they think? For Paul, it was worth the risk. His life story proclaimed that even “the worst of [sinners]” (v.15) could “believe in [Christ] and receive eternal life” (v.16). Today, consider opening up about some personal difficulty to show others the goodness of God.
—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
What is the relationship between personal pride and transparency? When might it be appropriate to hold back some details, instead of disclosing everything?