Every so often I’ll pick up my Bible and turn directly to one of the apostle Paul’s many letters. I’m always impressed with the guidance he gave young churches filled with people clearly struggling to understand what following Christ really meant. What I find in these letters are not only Paul’s admonishments to congregations dangerously veering off track, but a beautiful picture of true Christianity from a broken man redeemed by Christ.
Back when Paul was known as “Saul,” he spent more time imprisoning and executing Christians than giving them helpful advice. He even sought permission from the high priest in Jerusalem to retrieve Christians from Damascus in order to punish them for their faith.
But, God had other plans and soon made it known that he had chosen him to carry the name of the Lord to all of Israel, Jew and Gentile alike (Acts 9:15). Yes, God chose the most unlikeliest of servants. In an amazing show of his love, forgiveness, and transforming power, God chose Saul the persecutor to become Paul the Apostle.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul describes the marks of a true Christian as brotherly love, hopefulness, patience, blessing your enemies, and living in peace (Rom 13). To the Galatians, Paul advises that they be led by the Spirit and bear the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).
And throughout Paul’s entire letter to the Philippians—as he sat imprisoned because of his work for God—he shared his boundless joy in all that he had gained from his devotion to Christ (Phil. 3). God redeemed Paul’s life, and his words now help to redeem ours.
Lord, thank you for leaving us the words of your apostle, Paul. Help us to live the life of your choosing and open our eyes to the guidance of the Spirit through your Holy Word. Amen.