December 12, 2017. Acts 20:4-23:35
In Order. The Past Matters
You have a past, a story, a testimony; one that is unique to you and only you. You may not talk about it or you may share it with everyone you come across. You may be ashamed of your past, embarrassed by it, or you may be incredibly proud of it.
Our stories and testimonies are given to us for a reason, and it is not to hide them from others, but to be able to use them in making a connection with someone who can relate and may even have a similar story to tell. There are many people who believe that because of their past, there is no way that God could ever forgive them or love them unconditionaly. They may have similar doubts that you have had before you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior.
You may also be struggling with sharing that past because you still have not accepted it and are ashamed. But look at Paul, a man who was known for persecuting and killing Christians; hunting men and women down and sending them to prison. He stood by while watching Stephen get stoned to death and did nothing but protect the clothing of the men beating him. If anyone should be ashamed or embarrassed to share their past it would be Paul, but instead he stands up on the steps in front of a crowd and admits to all of it.
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.
I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
Was he proud of his past? Probably not, but it is what brought him to know God on a personal level. Paul understood that by sharing his past and his testimony he would be able to reach so many more people because of it. Who in your life have you talked to but not opened up to about your testimony? Could you possibly be holding back something that only you could share with them?
Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”
Paul had said and done everything he could, he was an open book and did not hide from some of the more “shameful” things he had done in his past. Are you able to say that today?