“Love believes and hopes all things.”
Some think people will never change. The story of Saul/Paul comes to mind. When we first get introduced to this man named Saul in the early chapters of the book of Acts he isn’t a very nice man. The opening verses of Acts nine describe him as “Breathing out threats and violence.” All we know about him is he is actively engaged in tracking down everyone that claims to be followers of Christ and locking them up.
The great thing about Saul’s conversion to me is how it happened even when he wasn’t looking for a change at all. He was filled with violence towards all that call on Jesus’ name and yet Jesus himself showed up. Jesus asked him “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” Saul didn’t even know who he was he answered “Who are you Lord?” Isn’t that how we are sometimes? We make up our minds we don’t like someone even though we don’t really even know them. Saul was angry and looking for blood and yet when Jesus spoke directly to him he didn’t even know him.
Some of the people Tracey and I spend time with have been given chance after chance to get it together. Many of the families have given up on them thinking they will never change and in many cases it does seem to be true. My question is how many thought I would never change either? I would bet most people who knew me before thought I would always be a partying addict. Thank God Jesus Christ intervened and transformed my life. If God can completely redirect my life why can’t he do the same for others?
If you read a little further in Acts nine you will see there were many who didn’t trust or believe Saul was a new man either. After he had met Jesus and lost his sight a man named Ananias came and laid hands on him. Saul turned Paul regained his sight and immediately started telling others about Jesus Christ.
Everyone who heard Paul preaching Christ was amazed and said, “Isn’t this the same man who destroyed all that calls on this name in Jerusalem and didn’t he come here to do the same?” They simply couldn’t believe what they were hearing. A few days later the Jews came together and planned to kill him. The very ones that were on his side, against Christ’s followers, were now against him. Better yet all the believers didn’t trust him either so he was a man without a country.
Barnabas took Paul in and spoke well of him to others. I believe this is our job as believers. Somewhere along the line we have to take a chance on others. We cannot live our lives thinking “They’re never going to change.” Barnabas came along side Paul and introduced him to other followers of Christ and stood by him declaring “He had seen the Lord in the way, and he had spoken boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.”
On a personal note let me say this. When Tracey and I were talking about getting remarried we went to see a marriage counselor. We sat for three hours talking with a “Christian” counselor as he tried everything in his power to convince Tracey I would go back to drugs. He was convinced when hard times came I would run back to addiction. I’m so grateful Tracey knew how to hear from God because if she would have listened to this counselor we would have never been remarried. Tracey saw a change in me even when a “Professional Christian counselor” held out no hope. That was going on twelve years ago and I am glad to say I haven’t gone back to drugs or alcohol for relief. I have instead learned Jesus Christ sustains me and he will continue to as long as I look to him rather than myself. Change can happen, and I am going to believe for others just as others believed for me.
Written by Louie