No Matter What Is In Your Past, God Declared Your Worth
In a lighting flash of anger, the crowd grabbed Stephen and dragged him outside of the city to kill him. Those who had come to hear his testimony in court had turned into a mob. Angry at the claim that Jesus, who they ensured was dead, was now standing at the right hand of God. Angry at the insinuation that Jesus was resurrected and was the Son of God, the Messiah.
A speech. A mob. Stones. Death.
And Saul agreed completely with killing Stephen.” Acts 8:1, NET
Saul declared war on the church. Attempting to destroy it, he went from house to house, dragging out Christians and imprisoning them (Acts 8:3). Yanking them out of their houses and to their deaths.
He intercepted letters from the prisoners to other Christians and then went to Damascus to persecute the intended recipients (Acts 22:5).
Hate. Anger. Evil. Imprisonment. Death.
Yet, the Christians still shared their faith, still believed.
On his way to punish the Christians in Damascus, God stopped him. Blinded him. Spoke to him: “Why do you persecute ME?” (Acts 9:4).
Darkness swathed in light and Saul’s life became the darkness he had been trapped in.
For three days, Saul didn’t eat or drink. He just stayed in darkness. Trapped. Alone. Imprisoned inside himself.
God sent Ananias to bring light. Sight. Not restored, but newly given. Holy Spirit filled.
Forgetting what was behind and reaching out for what was ahead (Phil 3:13), Saul became Paul. He wrote a chunk of the New Testament. He preached the Gospel with boldness before anyone who would listen. He was imprisoned multiple times, persecuted, and martyred. He was all in for God and never stopped serving God.
My past is rocky. Not like Saul. A different rocky. But still. There is shame, regret, sin.
My past can cause me to be imprisoned within myself: “God can’t use someone like me. God wouldn’t even want to. No worth here.”
But God declared my worth in the death and resurrection of His son. In Jesus’ perfection, not mine.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8, NET
Listening to the lies, I stay still. I don’t live a bold life. I live as if I’m still in darkness. A scarlet letter marking me as worthless. Unusable by God and His purposes.
Imagine if Paul had lived like that. Oh, what we would all have missed.
Paul wrote roughly a third of the New Testament. He established numerous churches and strengthened many others. It’s not that God wouldn’t have prevailed in these ways, but Paul wouldn’t have gotten to do these things if he’d decided that his past kept him from being used by God. If Paul had found his worth in Christ and then lived as if he hadn’t, it would be a loss for all.
God uses failures throughout the Bible. Moses. Elijah. David. Peter. You can’t really read about many names in the Bible without finding their failure too.
Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead.” Phil 3:13, NET
No matter what your past holds, God has already said you were worth it. Before you came to him, while you were still a sinner, knowing all the sins you had committed and would still commit, he saved you.
You. For a reason.
If he can use someone who hunted down Christians, he can use you.
There is an enemy that wants you to live a lie of imprisonment that you have no worth.
It’s done. Live boldly in the gift of freedom.