11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[b] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
I may write on these verses for a couple days as there are a few things we should pull from here.
This is one of my favorite stories in Scripture. Think about what you just read: This man who was murdering and locking up christians, he was notoriously known throughout the area, this man was now visiting churches “for good.” This man was visiting churches and preaching “the faith!” Imagine how terrifying that would have been. You hear Paul is visiting and two weeks ago the people he was visiting were killed upon his arrival. Now he is coming to your church… Then he showed up and preached the Good News! Everyone was rejoicing over such a radical change!
The reason I love this story is that God used a guy who was adamantly against God. God used a guy who has likely done significantly worse than you or I could have done. This man was brought to truth through the phrase: Paul why are you persecuting ME?!? God considered what Paul was doing as persecuting Him. Therefore I find great comfort here not only for me but also for others.
I am comforted because I see how God used this wretched guy, changed his entire paradigm, and then used him to spark significant change in the church AND he wrote half of the New Testament. I find comfort because I see that if God could do something so incredible through this man there is no way Satan can trick me into thinking God wouldn’t use me.
Furthermore, when I talk with other people who are struggling with accepting Christ due to their past, I can remind them of Paul. I can remind them that God chose someone who was actively destroying christians because of their belief. He chose this person to be a huge part of God’s ministry!
This assures none of us can hold up something and say this disqualifies me! No! If God could use Paul, He can use you. Let God do great things through you just like He did Paul!
God, help me to be reminded that You use those who are broken. That You bring those who are far from You close to Your chest. You take someone who had no value and were enemies of the cross, and bring them to great significance in Your Kingdom. Help me to push to be used as much as possible by You because You can use anyone!
Use these truths to motivate others! You likely have friends who think they cannot be used. Maybe they think the sexual immorality they have been a part of is far too wicked to be useful for God. Remind them that God used Paul! He can use them too. 🙂