And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
This is the state of Paul’s heart when he has an encounter with Jesus. He certainly was not on a spiritual journey looking for truth or salvation. He had his mind made up and was doing what he could to oppose the church. In his own self-righteousness, he thought he was serving God by these things he was doing. But he was hurting people and persecuting Christians. He was hurting Jesus. He was out for blood. He was showing no mercy. He was truly an enemy of what Jesus stood for.
But how does Jesus respond to Paul? It is not with judgment and condemnation. He does not strike Paul dead on the spot. Instead He shows the greatest kind of grace and mercy to a most undeserving soul. He shows up personally to get Paul off the wrong track and onto the right one. He gives Paul an opportunity to realize exactly what he is doing. He comes to illuminate Paul’s mind with the truth of His love.
There was something in Paul that would be a huge benefit to the cause of Christ. Those qualities and characteristics were contained within him, but at this moment, they were coming out as threatenings and slaughter. But Paul’s encounter with Jesus, experiencing His mercy and coming to understand who Jesus is, would turn that passion within him toward a righteous cause. His energy and steadfastness, his knowledge, his dedication, those same traits he was employing for evil could do great good.
It works the same way in our lives. All those things that God created in us, those characteristics that make us who we are, are already part of us. For a while, we serve ourselves with those things. We follow our own path against His Way. But an encounter with Jesus changes everything. And now those things that are within us can be employed for His purposes through us. God gives us our strengths. He gives us those gifts. But we must choose to use them for Him. May we allow God to change our hearts so thoroughly so that we can truly give all we are to Him and for Him.