Acts 26:9  I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”


I can’t imagine that it was very easy to be around Paul.  Strong-willed and confrontational, he was passionately loved by some and equally hated by others.  Reading through Acts you see the number of times he was beaten and stoned, imprisoned and plotted against.  But in the midst of all that hard-headed pushiness, there is a thread of humility. 


Over and over again Paul re-iterates that it is God who is doing the work and he is merely a vessel, which is critical in turning worship away from himself and toward its proper object.  But that can sometimes be a false humility.  The thing that clues me in to the true humility of Paul is his willingness to admit his mistakes.  Before Paul was the primary evangelist for the early church, he was its most zealous persecutor.   He thought those who followed Jesus were heretics or worse and he hunted them down wherever they went, sending them to prison and to death.  We saw him way back in Acts 6 standing at the stoning of Stephen, giving his blessing to the murder.


All that changed when Jesus literally knocked him off his high horse on the way to Damascus, where he was going to imprison more Christians.  His spiritual blindness became literal in that moment and it was one of those Christians he was plotting to send to a death sentence that God used to restore Paul’s vision and to lead him to belief in Jesus.  Now, many years later, Paul’s zeal is redirected and he is the one standing in chains before a king.  And there Paul tells of his mis-directed life.  He admits that he had been quite sincere but very wrong in those former days, and that God had to go to quite dramatic lengths to set him straight.  I might be wrong, but I don’t imagine that such admissions came easily to a personality like Paul.  He had people killed on the conviction that he was absolutely right.  That’s not the sort of guy who readily stands up and says, “Oops…sorry, I goofed.”  But he does it here, before a king.


Paul’s basic strong-willed personality has not changed.  He is just as confrontational and sure of himself as a Christian evangelist as he was as a legalistic Pharisee.  We know that the change on the road to Damascus was real not because Paul’s basic personality changed, but because he can now admit his mistakes.  The praise he receives he passes on to God and the faults he accepts as his own responsibility.


So it is with us.  Our basic personalities are what they are.  Some are introverted, some extroverted, some confrontational, some conciliatory, ad infinitum through all the personality types.  Those types aren’t right or wrong, they’re just different, and God needs all of them.  God needed a bull-headed guy like Paul to spread the Gospel through hostile territory, just like God needed the gentle Barnabas to help tone Paul down when needed.  The thing that shows a Christian life is not our personality type, but our willingness both to give the glory to God and to admit our own mistakes.


Knock me off my high horse, God, and let me be your humble witness.  Amen.




Vote for Charity.  My next book comes out in September and a tithe of my profit from that book will be given to the charity selected by the most people.  Vote at www.annerobertson.com/survey.html.  You can vote once per day.


SpiritWalkers is available in audio as a podcast.  Visit www.annerobertson.com/poddevotions.html to subscribe or to listen online.