We all have a past. Some of us were practically born into the Kingdom of God, being raised by Christian parents who brought us up in God’s care and admonition. Others… were not. I have met so many young adults over the years who place themselves in a category above others in the area of “disqualification”. There’s almost a pride involved in our past sometimes. “Well, I’ve done X, Y, and Z – so I don’t see how I could possibly fit into the Kingdom of God.”
This type of attitude places all of the qualifying factors upon our shoulders instead of at the cross of Christ. It was Him and Him alone that qualified us through the beating He took at calvary. I know a guy who was heavily involved in drugs long before he found Jesus (or Jesus captured his heart). We talked long into the night once regarding his past mistakes. He confided in me about a time when he was younger where he was forced to shoot and kill a man in self defense. He thought that this would surely put him in a position of disqualification. We continued talking and I shared the history of King David with him. David also killed. David killed thousands of men. Some were in self defense, some were war, but one was murder. Because of a pregnancy wrought out of an affair, the king sent the woman’s husband to the front lines of battle where he knew there was certain death. Yet David was the only man in the Bible given the title “a man after God’s own heart”.
I was studying, this morning, the book of Galatians. God brought me back to this moment of my life. The man we should have discussed is Paul. Sure, David worked. My friend is now a believer who is sold out for God’s glory. But the truth is, there is no greater tale of redemption than that of Saul the religious murderer.
Saul was raised under the tutelage of Gamaliel – the world’s most highly revered rabbi. Saul was so zealous for “the law” that he was happy to persecute and murder Christians all in the name of the Lord. Saul was present at the stoning of the first martyr Stephen in Acts 7.
Paul, in writing to the Galatians, pens 1:15
But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased
Grace is a magnificent thing. Paul recognized this and so should we. We were all called and set apart from our mother’s wombs. The Bible tells us in Eph. 1:4 that we were called from the foundations of the world! Think on this for a minute (Selah) – God knew who Saul would be. He was aware of all the choices that Saul would have made that would have led him to the genocide of countless believers. God, in His grace (unmerited favor) created Saul and allowed him to be taught the ways of Judaism for a greater purpose.
God knew Saul would persecute many believers before he was even born. He also knew that he would be the road to salvation for many more. Your past never disqualifies you.
Have you ever stopped to think that the horrible things in your past will be used by the grace of God to speak to the multitudes? Moses was a murderer; he was used to deliver millions. Saul was a murderer; he was used to deliver billions. The grace of God extends so much farther than our eyes can see. As the Christ hung, near lifeless on the cross, His arms pinned wide by nine inch nails, His heart cried out “I love you this much.”