Are you intimidated by the huge amount of possibilities to choose from in your life? Do you wonder what to devote your time and attention to? If that sounds like you, then you can learn a lot from Saul of Tarsus from the New Testament.
From early on in his life, Saul was a well-known and accomplished man. He was a Pharisee and had been tutored by the wise and celebrated Gamaliel. Unfortunately, he spent a long time using his influence to persecute the Christians. A visit from the resurrected Christ changed all that. From then on, Saul gave everything he had to God and spreading His word to the world.
Most of us won’t serve years on end as a full-time missionary or die for our beliefs like Saul did. But we can still learn from Saul’s devotion and apply lessons from his life to our own.
The first thing Saul gave up was his past. Of course, that meant repenting of his sins, which were many and severe. But it also meant leaving his past behind him. What if he had let the terrible things he had done haunt him? It may have kept him from preaching the Gospel or otherwise blessing thousands of people. But no—Saul let Christ keep his old life and make better use of it.
We can’t let the times we did bad keep us from doing good. When we repent, we must give up our sins, but also our guilt. Then we can move forward to touch others’ lives.
Saul also used all of his talents. His background with the Pharisees meant that he knew religious laws extremely well and understood the importance of strictly obeying God’s commandments. This was reflected in many of his teachings. Saul—or Paul, as many called him—was also a Roman citizen. Besides saving Paul’s life at least once, this also meant that Saul was familiar with people from many different nations and customs. He catered his sermons and epistles to each group’s culture and needs.
Even though we may have a hard time recognizing it, God has blessed all of us with talents. But they’re given more as a loan than anything else; God expects us to give our talents back to Him by using them to help those around us.
Finally, Saul gave the Lord his time. After his conversion, he literally spent the rest of his life in the service of God. The ways he worked—preaching close by, traveling on missions, or writing letters—depended on his circumstances, but he always found ways to make his moments useful to the Lord.
Heavenly Father doesn’t expect most us to be full-time missionaries until our deaths. But we can still dedicate our time to the Lord. This doesn’t just include the hours we spend at church, studying the scriptures, or in the temple. We can also give the Lord our time by praying that we can do His will. Then we can go about each day looking for chances to help the people we come across.
We all have infinite options of how to use our lives. Saul of Tarsus taught us through his example that the greatest joy and fulfillment come when we choose to give ourselves—our pasts, our talents, and our time—to the Lord. At the end of his life, Paul clearly felt at peace with his decision to dedicate himself to God:
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-7).
So the next time you worry about the best way to spend your time, follow the example of this great man. Offer yourself to God, fight the good fight, and keep the faith. Then you’ll find peace like Paul’s.
|What Saul Did||What We Can Do|
|Left his wicked past behind him (Acts 9:20-22)||Repent of our sins and forgive ourselves|
|Used his Roman citizenship (Acts 25:11)||Use our talents and abilities in God’s work|
|Bore bold testimony (Acts 26:25-27)||Bear bold testimony|
|Dedicated his life to his ministry (Acts 26:20-22)||Dedicate our time to serving the Lord|
|Suffered a shipwreck and other trials (Acts 27:10)||Be patient and hopeful in our trials|
|Loved the people he taught (Phm 1:15-17)||Sincerely love the people we serve|