Paul’s experience on the Damascus road

Perhaps the famous preacher John Newton explained it best when he said, When I get to heaven I shall see three wonders there. The first wonder will be, to see many people there whom I did not expect to see. The second wonder will be, to miss many people whom I did expect to see; … More

Gratitude

Paul never got over the wonder of the incident on the Damascus Road. He was on his way to that city to try to imprison all the Christians there when he suddenly fell to the ground. There, in the glory of the light that shone around him, he learned who Jesus was. This was made more wonderful by the fact that eventually he came to see that what he once sincerely thought to be zeal and commendable activity for God was, as he puts it here, “blasphemy and persecution and insult” to the God of grace. Yet the Lord chose him.

Paul referred to himself as the “chief” of sinners (v. 15). We think of Paul as a great hero of the faith, but Paul never saw himself that way, because he remembered his life before he met Christ. The more he understood God’s grace, the more he was aware of his own sinfulness. Humility and gratitude should mark the life of every Christian. Paul says that even though he was worse than anyone else, God had mercy on Him and let Him be an example of Christ’s patience (v. 16). We too should never forget that we are sinners saved by grace. That is so wonderful to Paul that he cannot contain himself at this point, so he breaks into praise (v. 17): Paul’s heart is moved to remember how gracious the Lord Jesus has been to him; how many times he has forgiven and restored him; how he has constantly, patiently, set himself against all the natural temperament of this proud, arrogant young Pharisee.

As a result God wants to show even the worst of sinners that he loves them and wants to save them. Just thinking about all this makes Paul want to stop and praise the Lord. This should do the same for us as we think of what Christ has done and wants to do in our lives.

Application

Paul was so moved by God’s love that he was able to praise God continually. I pray that a similar thing will be what is evident in my life.

I Timothy 1:15-17 (English Standard Version)

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

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