Read Acts 9:1-31
I suppose it is the ultimate irony. The one, who, for some time, hated anything and anyone having to do with Christ, would himself embrace Jesus as his own Messiah. The one, who was antagonistic towards any and all who represent Jesus, would himself proclaim the Son of God with joy. The one, who sought to imprison others, would himself spend time in prison. The one, who had afflicted others with opposition, threats, and persecution, would himself have be afflicted.
As a chosen instrument of God, Saul would both bear the name of Jesus and suffer for it. That, my friends, is the ultimate irony and evidence of divine transformation. Saul’s life reflected an inspiring line in the sand with a clear “before” and “after” part of his story. Here is the way he described it to Timothy:
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. (1 Tim. 1:12-16)
As we close out this devotional series on the prison letters written by the apostle Paul, don’t forget that Paul was not only one who was placed in prison because of his faith. Prior to that, he was one who forced people of faith into prison. But God transformed him.
What does your story of transformation sound like? What less than admirable (call them “sinful”) aspects of your life used to be part of your life prior to Christ? What evidences of godly transformation are visible today? Rather than boasting about an change you might observe, look for opportunity to give credit to the Life Changer!