But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. – Acts 8:3 (ESV)
What is often overlooked about Saul/Paul is that he was present at the stoning of Stephen. In fact, he held the coats of those who carried out the evil deed. To say that Saul was a religious zealot would be an understatement. He was, without a doubt, as well grounded in “The Law” as anyone his age in the land. His zeal explains today’s verse, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church.” What he didn’t know was that what he had been learning would eventually point to the truth of Jesus being the Messiah.
Just as Saul thought he knew what he would be doing in life, we often feel safe and secure in the knowledge that we have prepared ourselves for our own self-assigned niche in this world. The truth is, while God may have orchestrated your training and experiences in life, He may plan for you to perform a completely different symphony than you had considered. As unnerving as that thought may be, remember the words of Jesus in the Garden when He said, “Not my will, but thine,” and be willing to recognize and accept whatever His will may be for your life.
Many Christians would say they admire Paul and would like to emulate him. Yet, when we look at what Paul did before conversion (Saul), we see he was very religious, to the point that he persecuted those who he thought were violating his religion. Saul thought what he was doing was right. We aren’t doing things as extreme as Paul, but do you find yourself sometimes doing things that you think are right, yet violate what God wants for your life?
When I look at events around the world, I have to frequently remind myself, these people are children of our God. When I see a country breaking down halfway around the world, I have to remember, these people need a savior. I am quick to judge and need to let the Lord deal with evil in our world. I need to do what I can to help people that God loves. People He sent His son to save.