It is forever printed on the page of Scripture in 1 Timothy 1:12-17 that the Apostle Paul who was a persecuting sinner became a pattern Saint to all who believe. Taking this into consideration it is good for us to look at some of the characteristics that marked him.
In the following articles we will remember his early life and later experiences giving some ways where he is a good example for us to follow.
His religious zeal
He is first mentioned in Acts 7:58 where he listened to a wonderful presentation by Stephen regarding the history of his people. Stephen accused them of resisting the Holy Spirit and rejecting the Just One whom they betrayed and murdered.
As Stephen brought his message to a close he saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Further to his message Stephen prayed as they were stoning him “Lord lay not this sin to their charge” Acts 7:60.
Hard to forget
I believe this did have a profound effect on Saul which would be hard to eradicate from his memory. The perpetrator is now fired up having a deep desire to seek others putting them into prison and consenting to some of their deaths. He did it in ignorance because of unbelief.
Saul at this time prided himself in his defense of the Jews religion and reveals this in Philippians 3:4-11
Though I might have confidence in the flesh, if anyone thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews: concerning the law a Pharisee, concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness of the law, blameless. What an amazing outstanding person he was but sums it all up in a sentence, those things which were gain to me I counted loss for Christ.
Dear believer what things are you allowing to take over your life at the expense of your commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ?
What is our genuine response?
The testimony Stephen left behind raises the question for us today as to what our reaction is to those who seek to oppose or attack our testimony. While the western world does not face the same severity of persecution as in other parts, there are various forms of opposition to the Christian faith.
Persecution can come from family members, school, university and college students, workplace colleagues and community members. Sometimes it can be felt by receiving the cold shoulder, extreme attitudes, cruel words, threats etc.
Every day we are faced with all kinds of things labeled against us and towards the Christian community in general. This is something we should expect and will increase more and more as society moves further away from God. How we respond will either bring honor or dishonor to the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let your light shine before mankind
Remember, like Saul, there are many who are deeply religious and fanatical being blinded to the truth and we need to be patient and loving to them. Our attitude is so important and getting the Word of God into their hands is vital.
Let me leave you with this challenge: are you sowing the good seed of the Word? Pray that the Holy Spirit will illuminate their blindness bringing them to the light where they can be saved. We will continue this series next month on the great Apostle Paul.