Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Legacy of a Faithful Runner

Allow me to introduce you to Saul of Tarsus. This guy has no love for Christians. He was approving of Stephen's execution; a Christian and deacon of the Jerusalem church. In fact, Saul even held the coats for those who had hurled the stones. Saul didn't stop there; however, he was intent on ravaging the church. He entered house after house; dragged Christians off, and committed them to prison. Saul zealously persecuted the Jerusalem church, and when, as a result of his persecution, the disciples had fled to surrounding cities, Saul was undaunted. He continued to threaten and murder the disciples of the Lord, and he even ventured forth to Damascus on a follower of Jesus hunting expedition.

Something happened on the road to Damascus that Paul did not expect. He met Christ. On that Roman road he humbled himself before the Lord, and began to follow his Savior Jesus Christ, whom, up to that point he had ardently attacked. You see, Saul was sincere in his beliefs, but he was sincerely wrong because his god was not Jesus Christ. His legacy up until that Damascus road conversion was one of an intelligent, ambitious, zealous, sincere fool; a fool for denying the One and Only Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

After his conversion, however, that intelligence, ambition, zeal, and sincerity was brought under the submission of the Holy Spirit. Humility conquered pride, and one who had “breathed out threats and murder” against the followers of Christ, became the greatest evangelist of Christ. The Lord used this man to establish churches throughout Asia Minor and Europe. 23% of the words written in the NT came from the Holy Spirit through Paul. He was beaten, whipped, imprisoned, robbed, shipwrecked, stoned, and hunted down; as he had before hunted Christians. Yet there had never been a more bold witness for the faith. His testimony is one who preached Christ and Him crucified, and he did it wherever he went; indeed, it was his purpose for existence.

At the end of his life he wrote to his protégé Timothy these words:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

From the moment of his conversion until his dying day, Paul diligently, consistently, and passionately labored for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He left a legacy to follow. His influence on lives for the gospel is still bearing fruit. He never quit learning; he remained humble and praised God for his weaknesses because that is when the power of the Lord shone through him the most. He is the standard for every missionary that leaves home to proclaim the gospel, and for every pastor who leads a congregation.

What a legacy!

Uzziah started off so well but finished poorly; Saul (who became Paul) started off horribly, but finished having fought the good fight, having finished his course, having kept the faith; henceforth there was a crown of righteousness laid up for him in heaven, which his Lord and Savior would give to him

There is nothing like the reality of death to bring clarity to the living of life. Our lives are like a canvas upon which we paint, and we will, sooner or later, leave behind a portrait. You are leaving a legacy; determine that with God’s help you’ll leave a helpful one, because you never know when you will make your final deposit into the legacy that you’re leaving.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In this day and time, when there is so much apostacy and when even the church itself is submissive to the world ... we must take up our cross. We must speak out for Christ ... we must not be quiet ... we must be bold ... we must witness and spread the good news! The church is asleep ... our country is under judgement ... Israel is surrounded ... Where are the voices that proclaim 'NOW IS THE DAY FOR SALVATION'... tomorrow may not come for many ... I don't want to finish my race ... face my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ without having given my all. How about you?