Paul, an Apostle: Reversing the Trend of Proving Oneself

We live in a world of impressions. Constantly we are asked to impress and we expect others to impress us. This is sometimes evident in my life.

Every time I go back to my hometown, I feel somewhat like I have to prove myself. Numerous people know my past failures and I feel like a lot of the time that I’m there that I just spend trying to prove that I’m a different person. I make sure that people know that I go to a Christian school and that I’ve been called to the ministry. But I am encouraged by the way that the Apostle Paul handled things after his conversion.

If you do not know Paul’s story, it is a crazy one. Paul, formerly known as Saul, was a persecutor of Christians. He killed Christians, dragged them out of their houses and imprisoned them (Acts 8:3). He was trying to protect the Jewish way of life because he did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Saul was a bad dude. Paul even recalls later that he is the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

But on the road to Damascus, Paul’s life was ransomed by Christ. He was made a new creation and Paul became one of the greatest missionaries to ever live.

Now would you think that Paul had something to prove? Why wouldn’t he go to the apostles and tell them how God had changed his life right away? Because he knew that his calling, his salvation was not dependent on others. Paul acted in a different way.

He did not go immediately to anyone trying to prove Himself (Galatians 1:16). He actually spent time by Himself in Arabia (Galatians 1:17). God in that time was preparing Paul for what would come next.

In the book of Galatians, Paul is confronted about his calling by the Judaizers, a group teaching a false gospel to the church of Galatia. They question his authority, his apostleship.

How does Paul respond? Anger? Defensiveness?

Nope. Paul responds, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10)

Paul realized where his call came from, God. He realized that the old nature, the flesh nature was bent on pleasing people, but that he no longer was enslaved to that. Paul uses a conditional statement to put the final emphasis on this, that if he were still trying to please men, then he would not be a slave of Christ.

That’s why Paul was able to live his life in boldness. That’s why he was able to go through all the persecutions, and trials and continue to believe that this was a part of God’s plan. He never had to prove himself to any person.

That should encourage us. If Paul, the worst of sinners did not have to prove himself, we do not have to either. In Christ, we are free from proving ourself, our call, our new life.

No matter where you have come from, God has given you a special calling, not dependent on the agreement of others. We are no longer slaves of men, but slaves of Christ. And that is the best place to be.

Live this New Year free from having to prove yourself to others.

Blessings ya’ll,
Joseph.

Dealing with Temptation: Part 1: Identification, Not Suppression

Many of you, like myself, have tried to deal with temptations. Books, podcasts, sermons. These are all fine and good. But I think there is a better way to deal with it. The next few blog posts will be aimed towards helping us gain a better understanding of temptation and overcoming it.

It clicked in my head a few weeks ago. Most if not all of us have seen Finding Nemo. In the movie there is a scene where one shark is speaking from a podium and he says he has not had a fish in two weeks. The sharks applaud the effort. Only a scene or two later, blood rushes up to the shark’s nostril, his eyes turn black and all he wants is “just a bite” of those fish.

This is how I have been feeling recently with temptations. I do well for two weeks. I feel good about my progress. And then temptation slaps me right in the face. And my eyes turn black and all I want is just a bite. But we all know that just a bite is not possible. Temptation leads to sin and sin leads to death and destruction.

So how do we get out of this cycle? Well, first I think the key is identifying what temptation looks like. Temptation looks differently for each person, but the effects are the same. We have to identify what our temptation looks like.

How do we do this? The only true way to identify what temptation and sin is, is to know the truth really well. For example, those who are hoping to catch a fake dollar bill, are not studying all the variations of false bills. Instead, they are studying and examining what a real dollar bill looks like. They know every nook and cranny of that thing. They do that so when the time comes, they will know what the true bill looks like.

The Bible describes Satan as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). The apple in the garden looked appealing to Adam and Eve. The apple was not inherently bad in and of itself. It was bad to eat from that tree because that was a direct command from God. And Satan will try to make us not believe God fully.

Just like in our culture today, there are things out there that look appealing, that are not even inherently bad. We have to know the truth. And the next blog post will talk more in depth of how we identify the truth and weed out the lies of the devil and our own fleshly desires.

picture taken from: steff1205.wix.com
Merry Christmas ya’ll,
Joseph.