“However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:16).
Anyone with a cursory grasp of Biblical history is surely aware that God has worked to bring forth many accomplishments through human beings who seemingly had little to offer. Some prominent Old Testament examples include a reluctant public speaker (Moses), a fearful future military leader (Gideon), and a prophet who felt he was too young for the job (Jeremiah).
Some of the more famous New Testament examples include Jesus’ own disciples. That group comprised four fishermen, a tax collector, a skeptic, a political extremist, and four nobodies. We can also look to Paul the Apostle’s experience as another case in point. For instance, consider Paul’s testimony to a secular court of his day…
“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:9-11 ESV).
Paul might have allowed these sins to derail the future God planned for him. However, God also inspired Paul to record an important spiritual truth in his second letter to the Corinthian church: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Once again, Paul’s experience reminds us that we need not allow the past to undermine God’s plan for our future. For those who are in Christ, such things have passed away and all things have become new. Therefore, Paul’s life points the way to an important truth: it is never too late to begin living a life that honors God regardless of what we may have done in the past.
Even if we (like Paul) have done things that we now regret, God’s grace can allow us to move forward and become all that He created us to be. It is in this manner that we can prevent something in the past from allowing us to enjoy God’s best in the present.