Journalist Shana Alexander wrote a book that was very sympathetic with the case of a woman who was convicted of a serious crime. The writer was sensitive to the plight of the accused for several reasons. First, she felt that the woman was unfairly sentenced—two similar cases had resulted in leniency from the court. She also said that the accused had been smeared by the tabloids, which resulted in adverse public opinion. But the most compelling reason was that Shana saw herself in the woman. “She reminds me of me. We’re all capable of doing this,” said Alexander, commenting on the crime in question.
The apostle Paul would agree. He too saw himself in the lawbreakers. He too realized that by nature he was not above their crimes. In addition, he knew that we all deserve punishment. But this fact added to his compassion as he spoke about the One who came “into the world to save sinners,” of whom Paul himself claimed to be “chief” (1 Tim. 1:15). He knew the Lord had been patient and merciful to him, so he wanted to show that same patience and mercy to others.
When we see ourselves in others, we’ll see that Christ’s forgiveness does not reflect our superiority. It shows God’s mercy.
Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see;
The mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me. —Pope
Overlook the faults of others and overcome your own.