Galatians 1.13: For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15: But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16: To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18: Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19: But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. 20: Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 21: Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; 22: And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: 23: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 24: And they glorified God in me.
Use your past to point others to God’s future for them.
Two fellows were talking one day when one said, “You look depressed, Bill. What are you thinking about?” Bill answered, “My future.” Shocked, his friend said, “Well, what makes it look so hopeless?” Bill replied, “My past.”
Sadly, many people allow past mistakes to dictate future successes. One person who could’ve allowed his past to affect his future was the Apostle Paul. He had been a student of the law, a devout religious follower, and a passionate Christian-persecutor. His main drive in life was to murder those who professed Christ and followed the “new” religion. Yet rather than allowing his past to cloud his future, Paul used his past to point others to his new direction.
Notice how Paul described his past, “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.” Paul realized how deeply sinful his past had been. He knew how much damage he had caused, and how many of his (now) fellow believers he had killed. Yet he pointed to God’s purpose in it all: “But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.”
God got all the glory for Paul’s conversion. No person could have made such a complete transformation without God’s work in his life. When others heard Paul’s testimony, saw his life, and listened to his preaching, they saw how God could change a life.
Many of us have regrets in our past, things we wished we didn’t do or had done differently. Yet when God saved us, He forgave our past mistakes and gave us a bright future. Rather than meditating on the past as some people do, God desires for us to use our past as a testament to the power of His saving grace.
You may not be the most scholarly Christian, the most learned in biblical knowledge, or the most eloquent speaker about God’s Word; yet one testimony you can give is the story of God’s work in your life. Paul used the story of his past to point others to Christ; you can do the same thing.
While Paul’s conversion is certainly evidence of a dramatic change, every conversion is a powerful story of God’s love and mercy. The next time God prompts you to share His love with someone, tell them of how God has changed your life. Show them God’s power in you, and allow God to get the glory for His work in saving a sinful soul.
Philippians 3.3: For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 4: Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6: Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7: But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
13: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14: I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.