Mars Hill Church of Christ
On the way home last night after baseball practice, Liam said, "Mommy, daddy, I made a mistake." "Oh no, buddy, what happened?" "Well, there was a bag in the dugout that looked just like mine, and I accidentally put on the other kid's helmet."
There are not too many people in the world who have never experienced failure or never made a mistake. At some point or in some way, most have tried to complete something they started but to no avail. Sometimes life just kind of malfunctions without any warning at all.
At times, it seems the harder we try, the harder we fall. After all the effort, energy, planning, and hard work, we were left with a broken heart, a broken spirit, a broken enthusiasm for life, and maybe even a broken wallet. We were left with feelings of despair, hopelessness, and helplessness—the feeling of failure.
There may be someone that feels this way right now. It may be that as you have reflected on your life and taken an inventory, you are not pleased with where you are, who you are, or where you are going.
If anyone throughout the history of humankind could look back on the life they once lived and be filled with regret, guilt, embarrassment, or remorse, it would have to be the apostle Paul. Before the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus, he lived an opposed life to Christianity. Acts 7:58 says that Paul, here in this text Saul, stood by and watched as men hurled stones at Stephen, a disciple who was made a martyr of Christ on this occasion. Not only did he stand by and watch, but the text also says he consented to his death. He agreed with the charges brought against Stephen and approved the motivation and manner of his death (Acts 8:1).
Acts 8:1 goes on to say, "At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." This great persecution arose partly because "Saul made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison" (Acts 8:3). "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem" (Acts 9:1-3).
Paul would admit to his pre-Christ behavior. "For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it."
(Galatians 1:13). But he would also praise God for his post-Christ transformation. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:12-15).
Saul was converted to Christ, given a new name, a new life, and started living that life for the cause of Christ, filled with the Goodness of God. He let go of the mistakes in his past and focused on moving forward in faithfulness. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
I think if Paul were with us today, he might use those old axioms, "If I can do it, anyone can do it!" "If God forgave me, He will forgive anyone!" No matter what the voices of your past keep telling you, God's grace is more profound than any hurt. God's forgiveness is bigger than any sin. God's love is stronger than any failure. God's mercy is greater than any mistake. Let go of your past mistakes and focus on moving forward in faithfulness.
I love you with the Love of the Lord~ Chris