15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Ever wonder why Paul talks about himself here? Love is not self-obsessed so why the shift from talking about sharing Christ to talking about himself?
Think about it. Things are not going well in Corinth and this letter will in some ways rub salt in the wounds. The man who first introduced them to Jesus now knows about and is confronting them with their issues: infighting, choosing favourites, meat sacrificed to idols, sexual immorality, misusing and abusing their gifts, a lack of love. It can be very demoralizing to see your condition so starkly through the eyes of someone else and it was all true. It could make a person want to give up.
So Paul reminds them of his own path. He is the least of all the apostles, he was a persecutor of the followers of Jesus. Yet in spite of all that God, by His grace, has blessed his ministry more than anyone else. He has taken the good news further than anyone else. God was not limited by Paul's dark past. That's why Paul took a few minutes to talk about himself. In reality he only used his own past to highlight the limitless grace and power of God to transform. Yes they are a mess in Corinth but they are God's mess and as long as they remain in the hands of the Potter something beautiful will emerge just as God transformed his own life.
Abraham was a polygamist
Moses killed a man
Aaron made a golden calf
David killed his friend and stole his wife
Peter denied Jesus with cursing
The Bible is not about great men. It's about what a gracious God can do with messed up people. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found. Was blind but now I see. If God can do it for me, He can do it for anyone.