I have never really been very fond of the Biblical Paul. I have always thought of him as being a bit conceited and a tad chauvinistic towards women!
He once actually said these very words:
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14:34 & 35)
Honestly, how demeaning is that? I sometimes find that my dislike of what Paul says and the manner in which he says it sometimes clouds what I am reading. In fact it was getting so bad I would find myself engaged in mental conversations with Paul about his chauvinistic attitude and completely forget that I was in the process of reading the Bible! Never mind the fact that the man has been dead for thousands of years.
However, the more I read about him, the more I am coming to truly admire him and his absolute, unwavering faith and trust in God. Maybe, one of the reasons I react so strongly towards him, is because I am envious of him. I long to have the same absolute trust in God, and yet, I often find myself doubting that God even hears me or truly forgives my sin.
Here you have a man who hated Christ and His followers. Who actively sought to persecute Christians. He was on his way to Damascus to root out any Jews who followed the Way, when he had his life transforming experience and Jesus spoke to him.
From that moment on Paul accepts God’s total forgiveness. I mean, how could he? It is at this point that I become envious, because if that had been me, my response would have been something along these lines: You can’t possibly forgive me Lord, look at what I have done. I am not worthy to preach your Word. What will everybody think of me – one moment I am persecuting Christians and the next moment I am one! I have to do some kind of penance before you can actually forgive me.
Paul was of the same character as Abraham and David – men after God’s own heart.
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3)
David was a murderer and an adulterer and yet God says “I have found David … a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22)
God said it, they believed it and they could go on and minister in the knowledge that their sins had been forgiven and they were free – never to remind God again of the wrong they had done.
I want to be like them!