Lent Devotions 2008: Saturday 23rd February

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive Eternal Life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

In Galatians 1:15, the Apostle Paul said that God set him apart from birth to be His chosen instrument in the spreading of the Gospel to the Gentiles. But what are we to make of the fact that Paul, before his conversion on the Damascus road, severely persecuted the Church which God had intended for him to advance? Paul thought he was doing the right thing as a loyal Israelite, persecuting this non-Jewish/pagan religion. Had God lost control of His servant Saul as he was imprisoning believers and stoning prophets such as Stephen? He was supposed to have been separated from birth wasn’t he?

Perhaps the only adequate answer we can give is that God had a mysterious plan for Saul. Though Saul fell into such blatant sin, God allowed this for quite a considerable time as He had in mind for him to be the most meaningful example of all. Saul was to become the great Paul, the gospel-driven apostle. And Paul answers this question in the last verse of this text: “I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who wouldn’t believe on Him and receive Eternal Life.”

Some people today actually think God won’t forgive them. What they’ve done is too bad to be forgiven. Today is a lesson for you if you are one of them. You should take comfort in the fact that God has forgiven a man like Saul, who was the worst of sinners. Even he was given another chance. A second life if you will.

If God can show mercy to a man such as Paul used to be, a blasphemer and persecutor of believers, then it’s not too late for the likes of you and me. We can still believe in Christ to save us. God took on all of Paul’s failings and sins; even whilst he was not in the short term glorifying Him.

God eventually turned him around to serve His ultimate purpose. As it turned out, Paul was then used to save many more by the spreading of this Gospel.

Lord may we in turn be moved by this Gospel Message; to have our lives be used according to Your purpose. May we take heart and share the Good News of Your Salvation to the rest of the world around us. Amen.