“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:14
History records the Apostle Paul as “a man of little stature, partly bald, with crooked legs, of the vigorous physique, with eyes set close together and nose somewhat hooked.” His enemies said of him, “his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10). Paul said of himself in 1 Corinthians 2:3, “I was with you in weakness and fear, and in much trembling.” As Paul is speaking in 2 Corinthians 7:5, he said, “Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.”
Although the writers of history indicate that the Apostle Paul was a small frail man, and the Scripture indicates he had conflict surrounding him and fears within. I believe he stands in Scripture as the greatest evangelist that has ever lived, giving us 13 books of the New Testament and spreading the gospel all over the then known world. He took what God had given to him—his background, his education, his personality, his zeal—and focused it to accomplish his God-given role to evangelize, especially to those who were not Jews.
Fulton Oursler said, “Paul may have been short in physical stature, but he stands tall, a commanding figure second only to the Master Himself in the history of the Christian faith and in Christian literature down the ages.” The Apostle Paul is a portrait of courage.
God gave Paul an incredible platform for sharing the gospel to his world.
And I believe God has given us the same kind of opportunity to impact those in our sphere of influence. He wants us to be so amazed by His grace toward us and so overcome by His purpose for our lives in order to use all that we are and all that we have experienced to influence more people for His kingdom. Even before Saul of Tarsus was saved and became Paul, God had prepared him for the task ahead of him.
No part of our lives is wasted in the hands of God. Paul was a Jew, a Roman citizen, a Pharisee, a Hebrew from the tribe of Benjamin (probably named after King Saul, who was from the tribe of Benjamin), taught under Gamaliel, and a student of Greek and Jewish literature. God used everything of Paul’s pre-Christian experience so that once he came to know the Lord he had an audience with whom he could share the gospel.
And remember Paul must have had great regret because of his past, as well. He thought he was zealous for God’s sake when he was throwing Christians in prison and watching over the coats of those who were stoning Stephen in Acts 7:58. But, he was actually an enemy of God. Saul was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord and seeking letters to imprison them and bring them back to Jerusalem when he was radically saved on the road to Damascus in Acts chapter 9. It was there, Saul recognized he was persecuting Christby mistreating His followers. Can you imagine how different it would be today if Paul had not accepted the forgiveness of God and His grace toward him? He would not have gone far and wide to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, winning people to the Lord, starting churches, and writing 13 books of the New Testament, giving us the doctrine of Godand the pattern for living the Christian life. He turned his courage in God’s direction so as to honor him with his life.
No matter your past, your education, or your experiences in your life, God wants to use you in a very unique way during your time in history. Do not let your past enmity with God keep you from becoming everything God wants you to be for Him. You can reach people that God wants you to reach, but it will take courage. You may feel weak, frail, and fearful, as did Paul. But God can turn your past into a great future, using everything that you are and all that you have for the furtherance of the gospel and a glorious future for you and those God wants you to reach.
Questions for Thought
- What in your past is keeping you from God’s best for you?
- Have you truly embraced that you are God’s and thanked him for His magnificent, unmerited favor?
Consider each day how you will demonstrate courage, using everything that you are and all that God has done for you to become and do that which God has placed you here to do!
Alan has a passion to minister to and assist the body of Christ to experience God’s fullest blessings. He is passionate about the great commandment and the Great Commission. Alan and his wife, Janna, have three adult children and four grandchildren.