For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
Paul carries on his instructions: “Remind them… and I want you to insist on these things.”
Verses 4 through 7 area a beautiful summary of the gospel message, but I suspect what Paul is really wanting us to keep in the forefront of our minds is verse 3. Without verse three, you not only don’t have a gospel message, you have a people who begin to think that they are so special—that they in some way deserve a justification—that they don’t care about things like good works.
It is only when we (regularly) remember that we were (and frequently still are) foolish, disobedient, led astray etc. etc; that were can look upon others with compassion. That we can remember the love that has saved us and the daily need that we have for that love. That we can be motivated to do the good things that we have been created to do.
You see, a lot of people love to emphasize that works do not save anyone, and that is true. But works are always mentioned in relationship to salvation. They may not be the cause, but they are the effect… always. And while we shouldn’t look to merit as any motivation to do well, gratitude is not objectionable. So remember why it is that you need a savior. And while you’re at it, that you are no better than those around you who need it too.