Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Why does God allow us to do certain things before we are Christians?

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

1st July 2012

Have you ever thought about this question?

If God is going to call a person to Himself, if He is going to bring them to faith in Jesus, then why does He allow that person to become say, a thief, a paedophile, or even a murderer before conversion?

Why doesn’t God protect some Christians from such a past?

Take the Apostle Paul for example.

We know that before he was born God had set him apart to be an apostle:

‘But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles…’ (Galatians 1:15–16)

But we also know that, before his conversion, Paul became a Christian hating, Christ persecuting zealot:

‘Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples…’ (Acts 9:1)
‘“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied’. (v 5)
‘as for zeal, persecuting the church…’ (Philippians 3:6).

Things were so bad that later Paul would describe himself as ‘the worst of sinners’:

‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst’. (1 Timothy 1:15)
‘For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God’ (1 Corinthians 15:9).

We also know that God dramatically broke into Paul’s life on the Road to Damascus to bring him to faith (Acts 9:3-19).

But the question remains, “Why didn’t God arrange Paul’s ‘Road to Damascus experience’ before he imprisoned and murdered Christians?”

“Why did God allow these things to happen to Paul?”

Here are a couple of thoughts, which might also help us to understand why God allows us to do certain things before we are Christians.

First, it enables the perfect patience of Jesus to be displayed:

‘But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience…’ (1 Timothy 1:16)
‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’. (2 Peter 3:9)

Whoever we are, whatever we’ve done, God does not want us to perish.

Second, it encourages those who think they are too sinful to have any hope:

‘But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life’. (v 16).

If God can save a hardened hater of Christ, who murdered Christians, then He can save you and me, no matter what we had become.

If God changed the chief of sinners into the chief of missionaries, think what He can do for us.

Have a good week reflecting on God’s great patience and His power to change lives.

Pastor Barry

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