As rocks fell upon the body of the preacher Stephen, standing close was one holding the coats of the stone throwers who agreed with the death sentence of a preacher of God. His name…Saul. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees and held to the law, blameless. It was this Saul who, just a little later, would carry documents to Damascus, allowing him to put Christians in jail; perhaps to meet the same sentence as Stephen.
Sometimes it might be hard to believe it was this same man Saul who would, in a short period, start speaking to the Christians as one of their own. The Christians even had a hard time believing it. Why would a staunch Pharisee convert to Christianity? How could he leave behind everything he believed and live as a Christian? The answer was simple…Jesus.
You know of Saul’s discussion with Jesus on the road to Damascus in Acts 9 and his baptism in Acts 9.18, but do you remember his words in 1 Timothy 1.15 – “the chief of sinners.” Saul, later to be called Paul, carried a burden with him because of his past. Even though he might have carried this burden, he knew that living in the past was not his purpose. His purpose was to continue to run to the race to receive the prize (Philippians 3.12-14).
Paul knew that focusing on the past would steer one off the track of righteousness. Jesus had spoken of this in Luke 9.62. We need to remember this as Christians, focus on the prize ahead not on the events behind. Colossians 3.2 tells us to, “Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth.”
Let us strive, as Paul did, to press onto the prize of Jesus Christ.
Just some thoughts,