54 Once the council members heard these words, they were enraged and began to grind their teeth at Stephen. 55 But Stephen, enabled by the Holy Spirit, stared into heaven and saw God’s majesty and Jesus standing at God’s right side. 56 He exclaimed, “Look! I can see heaven on display and the Human One standing at God’s right side!” 57 At this, they shrieked and covered their ears. Together, they charged at him, 58 threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses placed their coats in the care of a young man named Saul. 59 As they battered him with stones, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, accept my life!” 60 Falling to his knees, he shouted, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!” Then he died. 8 1 Saul was in full agreement with Stephen’s murder. (Acts 7:54—8:1a, CEB)
Have you ever run into somebody you knew from a long time ago? I have and I tell them I’m a pastor and some of my old friends say, “seriously! you’re a pastor. With all the stuff you use to do?”
Yes. Because what I did in my past doesn’t define who I am today or what God has done in my life.
In the stoning of Stephen passage we read above, a young man named Saul held the cloaks of those stoning Stephen. And he, Saul, was in agreement with Stephen being killed.
This young man would go on to persecute the followers of the way, those who believed in Jesus. And then on the road to Damascus, Saul was blinded and met by Jesus. When he regained his sight he started going by his Greek name Paul and was the greatest missionary for Christ in his time.
We don’t judge Paul by his past as Saul and we should not judge others by their pasts either. Your past doesn’t define you. That is where you were, and God is taking you to way more wonderful places.
Loving People. Loving God.