Have you come to a point in your life that you prayed, “Lord, please make a new beginning in my life”? If yes, then please be assured that God hears our prayers, and will answer that desire for a new beginning.
Let us look at the life of Saul. The first entry in the New Testament of Saul was in Acts 8:1. It says, “And Saul approved of their killing him.” Later in continued in verse 3 “But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.”
Saul’s notoriety is described in this chapter. It is notable that when Luke wrote the book of Acts, he was already in the company of a converted Saul, now called as Paul. Luke did not mince words nor edited it. Luke wrote that it was Saul who approved the killing of Stephen, and went about dragging Christians to be imprisoned. In short, Saul was destroying the church. And Paul most probably told Luke to tell about his past, uncensored and unedited.
Why? Paul is teaching us that our past will not define who we are. What should define us is who we are in Jesus Christ.
When Saul met Jesus in the road to Damascus, his life was changed. He completely turn around and became the first missionary to the Gentiles. He did not let his past define him. He did not even hide his past. This should be the same with us. We must make our past an example to people that they, too, can have that assurance that they can be changed by God.
Paul later wrote in 1 Corinthians 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.” It was perhaps difficult for Paul to write it. But he did not. He was the greatest example of the grace of God.
Acts 26:11 described what is probably the biggest regret of Paul: “And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” Again, he let Luke write about it.
Paul may have had sleepless nights thinking about those whom he tortured and forced to blaspheme. He did not hide this specific event in his past. He repented from it, and shared it to others that they too will see how God can change a life.
In Jesus, we, too, can have new beginnings.
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on