Around half of the New Testament in the Bible was written by one man: Paul. His letters to early Christian communities and leaders are full of encouraging words as Paul helped followers of Jesus to live in ways that trusted the God of love and extended his love to other people.
However, Paul wasn’t always a man of faith and love. Earlier in his life he was known a Saul and he was very angry. We first meet Saul as he watched one of Jesus’ disciples named Steven being killed because of his faith in Jesus (see Acts 7:54-8:3). Saul wanted to wipe out the early Christian movement because he thought that the teachings of Jesus went against the religious rules he had learned.
One day, while travelling to Damascus to arrest Christians who lived there, Jesus appeared to Saul and changed his life. Through his encounter with Jesus after his crucifixion and resurrection, the Holy Spirit changed Saul’s heart from being angry and filled with hate, to being full of grace, love and joy. Saul changed his name to Paul and dedicated the rest of his life to telling other people how God could transform their lives through faith in Jesus too.
One example of the change that God worked in Paul’s life is the way he describes the love he found through faith in Jesus:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV)
God transformed Paul’s life through the power of his Holy Spirit when he met Jesus, and he is still transforming lives. I have seen the way God changes people in my own life and in the lives of others. He can give patience to angry people, joy to sad people, hope to people who are in despair, and transform selfish people to be much more loving. We don’t get it perfect in this life and it usually takes time, but God can change our hearts and grow something better in us.
If you’re looking for change in your life or in your relationships, maybe read the story of Saul/Paul in Acts, Chapter 9 of the Bible. If he can do that for Saul, imagine what he can do for you…