(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
They praised God because of me
6th April 2006
What do you think of someone saying that people "praised God because of me"? Does that sound arrogant? What makes him think he can talk like that?
In Galatians 1:22-24, Paul wrote:
I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." And they praised God because of me.
Paul was saying that the churches in Judea didn't know him personally, but they were rejoicing because the man who used to lead the persecution of the church in their country had become a preacher of God's wonderful gospel.
They were not praising Paul - they were praising God.
God had radically transformed Paul from a cruel opponent of the gospel, who imprisoned Christians just for being Christians, and who sought the death penalty for them, into someone who himself risked death by preaching the wonderful truth that Jesus truly is the unique Son of God, who died on the cross to pay for our sins and who rose from the dead three days later.
Paul wasn't capable of transforming himself like this - it was God's power and mercy that transformed him. The Bible isn't just a sort of self-help manual (although it contains much great wisdom for us) - it's primarily a revelation of the nature of God, of man's need for God and for His forgiveness, and of the way of salvation through faith in the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that God will radically transform anyone who comes to Him with faith in Jesus. Paul was living proof that it's true! And the churches were praising God because His power had not only redeemed Paul but dramatically changed who he was.
Now, God is the same today as He was then. His gospel hasn't changed. His power is undiminished. He can transform you just as He transformed Paul. God can do such a work in your life that people begin to praise God for you - not because of your own efforts but because of His transforming power!
Exciting? Wonderful? Available? Yes to all three! Why not ask Him to give you faith to believe in Jesus Christ's amazing power to free you from your sin, to change your heart, and to inspire you and empower you to work for good in this world and the next?