This week we wrap up our look at forgiveness in the Bible. Our case study this week is a man known as Paul.
Paul’s story starts in Acts 8, when we meet Paul when he was known as Saul, a man who was deeply religious and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. He followed their laws and persecuted those who were known as Christians or “followers of the way”. While Saul was on his way to persecute more people, God stopped him. On that road to Damascus a bright light shone blinding Saul, and through the blinding light God spoke to Saul and asked him “Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (verse 4-5). Blind Saul was led to the house of Ananias. Ananias prayed for Saul to be healed. God healed Saul and Saul dedicated every moment of his life and death from that point forward to spreading the truth about the saving power of God and Jesus.
What can we learn from Paul’s story? Let’s start with forgiveness. As Saul he was attacking God and all that God loved. Yet God believed that beneath the outer hatred there was a man of strong faith, faith that was worth fighting for. Saul did some pretty terrible things, but God forgave him.
We also learn that change is possible for anyone at any time. Paul’s opportunity for change and forgiveness occurred while traveling to do harm, and God turned the experience around for good. God could have stopped Saul earlier, or later, but God chose that exact moment. Why? We may never know, just like we may never know why God chooses to touch our lives in special ways at special times.
Paul was given a fresh start by God, what if your day for a fresh start was today?