Confession: I’ve never especially liked Paul. Paul the apostle, that is. Respect, even to the point of being in awe of this mighty man of Christ, yes. But he’s not a man I’d especially care to sit down and have a pint or two with.
Paul, by his own admission, was a persecutor of Christians (Acts 26:9-11), even condemning some to death, such was his zeal. After his conversion, perhaps the single most important conversion in the history of the church, he shifted the target of his zeal. No, he did not become a literal persecutor of the Jews. He did become a zealot, and preached the kingdom of God in the person of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead to put paid to our sins.
Paul’s zeal is worthy of emulation. Would that I could measure up. But here’s where I suggest that Paul could have used a little something that Jesus had in great measure: humility. Consider this, from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Excellent advice, worthy of following. But here’s where Paul needs to dial it down a notch, in 4:9
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
I’m delighted that God chose Paul, knowing that his character would be just the thing to spread knowledge of God’s Son to the gentiles. But let’s take Paul with a large dose of our own humility, and let none of us think we are so blameless as to be self-appointed templates for humanity.
| technorati tag | Christianity|