And you think you’ve got issues.
1And Saul approved of their killing him. That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. 2Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. 3But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.
And Saul approved of their killing him.
Bam. If you don’t know – if you haven’t read Acts or never heard the rest of Saul’s story, long story short: God transforms Saul from this kind of man into quite possibly the most impactful Christ follower the world has ever known. He planted churches, he’s responsible for a large portion of our New Testament and for our ideas about what God has done in Christ, he most likely gave his life for the good news of Jesus. It is not an exaggeration to say that we are where we are and we know Jesus because of this man. Saul. Who approved of their killing Stephen, a radiant hero of the faith.
In comparison, whatever you’ve done probably isn’t that bad.
Not that you’re not bad…you might be. Well, chances are you are. We all are in ways great and greater. But if Saul – who became Paul – has a place in God’s service, a vital place, a ‘we can’t do it without you’ place, then you can have a place too. And you do. It’s why Saul who became Paul wrote so glowingly, so unbelievably, so amazingly about God’s grace. Because he knew it first hand.
And because it is that unbelievable. And it’s that amazing. And it’s yours for the receiving.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
1 Corinthians 15