I was recently talking with a friend when they made a comment about being unworthy of God’s forgiveness for all the things that littered their past. That statement hit me very hard, because that person is right. We are unworthy of God’s forgiveness. We are born sinful and will die sinful. Everyday we fall short of the glory of Jesus Christ.
That was something that the apostle Paul knew all too well. He never forgot it, and he thanked the Lord every single day, in every moment, for God’s grace and forgiveness.
Saul was the picture of unworthiness. He was a devout hater of Christians. He persecuted them and was witness to the stoning of Christianity’s first martyr. He held the cloaks of the men who threw the stones at Stephen just because he was a follower of “The Way,” a follower of Jesus Christ. Did Saul take joy from that stoning? Did he feel that Christians were getting what they deserved for their love of Christ?
Can you imagine what Saul’s heart was like, to hate someone so much that he was willing to travel to the ends of the Earth to murder them. He had a passion for ridding the world of Christians, and he made that passion his mission in life.
And then that day on the road to Damascus . . .
Saul was traveling that road when Jesus stopped him and asked him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul encountered firsthand the Christ he had been persecuting Christians for following. In that moment, on that road, Saul was blinded by a brilliant light. He traveling companions had to lead him to the nearby home of a friend, where he stayed for 3 days. During those days Saul was unwilling to eat or drink, and spent all of his time pleading with God to come to him.
After 3 days God sent Ananias to Saul. Ananias prayed over Saul and something like scales fell away from his eyes. He was blind and now he could see. Ananias baptized Saul, and the one-time devout hater of Christians, the man who had been filled with murderous rage for followers of Christ, became Paul, a man filled with passion for spreading the word and truth of Jesus Christ.
Paul was unworthy of God’s grace and forgiveness. His past was littered with hate, anger, rage, and the murder of God’s own children. God had every right and reason to never give him a second thought. Today we would hear of a person like that and immediately wish the pits of Hell upon them, because they are unworthy by our standards. But we are all unworthy. We all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. We are all Saul.
Let me say that again . . . WE ARE ALL SAUL!
Paul went on to be one of the most passionate and influential people in the New Testament. He made it his life’s work to travel the world spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, his own story of conversion being a passionate testimony to God’s grace, forgiveness, and love. His once-passion for ridding the world of Christians was completely turned around and became a fervent passion for leading the lost the Christ.
Only God knows what is in our heart and in our future. He knew that Saul had great things ahead of him. It just took a blinding moment on a dirt road to Damascus to turn him around. So when you think you are unworthy of God’s grace and love remember Saul. Remember his dirt road. Remember the scales falling away from his eyes. Remember that the man who murdered Christians was responsible for writing two-thirds of the New Testament. God loved Saul. God forgave him and put his past behind him. Saul was baptized and was reborn a new man with a totally clean slate, his previous sins forgiven and forgotten. God wants to do that with you also.
Do you feel unworthy of forgiveness? Remember Paul.
Until next time . . .