Yesterday I asked the question Am I Good Enough? We looked at Moses and how he did not feel “good enough” for the job that God had assigned to him.
I was going to look at a few different characters today, however, I would really like to devote today’s blog to Paul The Apostle. I do not think there is anyone in the whole Bible who seems less equipped for the job of apostle than Saul of Tarsus!!
Saul of Tarsus was a zealous Jew who hunted down believers of The Way (which Christians were called at this stage) in order to persecute them. Saul stood by and watched as Stephen; the first Christian martyr was stoned to death. Following this we see him plan his journey to Damascus. “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priestand asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” Acts 9:1-2.
It was during this journey that Jesus presented himself to Saul. Let us think about that for a moment, Saul is on his way to persecute, imprison and put to death the very family of Jesus and this is when Christ appears to him. One might think that Christ has come to strike him down in revenge for the death of his faithful disciple Stephen and the many others who have been persecuted yet no, Christ comes to adopt Paul into his family and employ him in the work of the gospel on earth. Why would He do this? For God’s Glory of course!
When I first came to Christ, I read many books on Paul and his story really spoke to me, I still love him greatly and thoroughly enjoy reading his letters. This was a man that truly despised Christ and His followers, a man who would go to any lengths in order to persecute believers and hamper the work of Christ yet in the blink of an eye Saul becomes Paul The Apostle, who in my mind is the most inspirational witness to faith in the whole of Scripture.
My favourite poem is one by Rudyard Kipling entitled “If” which he wrote for his son. While reading this beautiful poem let us think about Paul. I have attached an image of the poem and later intertwined this poem with Bible verses in order to show that Paul meets this criterion and more!
- If you can keep your head when all about you
- Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
1 Corinthians 4:12 “and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure”
- If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
- But make allowance for their doubting too;
Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
- If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
- Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Philippians 1:22-26 “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”
- Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
- And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
- If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
- If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
1 Cor 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.”
- If you can meet with triumph and disaster
- And treat those two impostors just the same;
Philippians 4:11-12 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
- If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
- Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
- Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
- And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
- If you can make one heap of all your winnings
- And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
- And lose, and start again at your beginnings
- And never breathe a word about your loss;
Philippians 3:8 “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
- If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
- To serve your turn long after they are gone,
- And so hold on when there is nothing in you;
2 Cor 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;”
- If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
- Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
- If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
- If all men count with you, but none too much;
- If you can fill the unforgiving minute
- With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Acts 28.30-31 “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance.”
- Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
- And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Paul would undoubtedly qualify as a man by Rudyard Kipling’s standards, yet he is so much more than that, Paul is the personification of the Man of God.
As Paul sat in prison, likely aware the day was drawing near that he would be put to death he writes to Timothy “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Paul could look back and see just how ill equipped he had been for the work of the Lord, yet he did not allow this to hinder him going forward. Instead Paul used this as a testimony for God’s glory. Putting aside all the shame that he must have felt, he boldly admitted his atrocious acts. Acts 22:4“I worked hard and killed men and women who believed as I believe today. I put them in chains and sent them to prison. The head religious leader and the leaders of the people can tell you this is true. I got letters from them to take to our Jewish brothers in the city of Damascus. I was going there to put the Christians in chains and bring them to Jerusalem where they would be beaten.” God sees the bigger picture. Paul would be the last person we would have thought of to write the majority of the New Testament, yet God knew what a righteous soldier of Christ Paul would be!
God will give you the ability if you give Him obedience and when you don’t feel “good enough” just think about this:-
Love and Blessings