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The Worst of Sinners
One extreme statement must still be made, without any platitudes and in all soberness. Not considering
oneself wise, but associating with the lowly, means considering oneself the worst of sinners. This
arouses total opposition not only from those who live at the level of nature, but also from Christians
who are self-aware. It sounds like an exaggeration, an untruth. Yet even Paul said of himself that he
was the foremost, i.e., the worst of sinners (I Tim. I:15). He said this at the very place in Scripture
where he was speaking of his ministry as an apostle. There can be no genuine knowledge of sin that
does not lead me down to this depth. If my sin appears to me to be in any way smaller or less
reprehensible in comparison with the sins of others, then I am not yet recognizing my sin at all. My sin
is of necessity the worst, the most serious, the most objectionable. Christian love will find any number
of excuses for the sins of others; not only for my sin is there no excuse whatsoever. That is why my sin
is the worst. Those who would serve others in the community must descend all the way down to this
depth of humility. How could I possibly serve other persons in unfeigned humility if their sins appear
to me to be seriously worse than my own? If I am to have any hope for them, then I must not raise
myself above them. Such service would be a sham.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer -
from Life Together 97-98
from A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005

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