by Shawn Brasseaux
I spend a lot of my time using Microsoft Word, for obvious reasons. 🙂 When editing a document in a word processor, you have the option of “redo” and “undo.” “Undo” undoes your mistake while “redo” reverses the “undo” command. If only life had “undo” and “redo” features: you could reverse the mistakes of your past, or you could do it all over again differently if you wanted. But, as we all know, life does not work like that. We have the present and the future: the past is just that—passed! We have one option, and that is to “redeem the time,” the time that we have today and whatever time we have left in the future.
Just a short time ago, I had a friend whose past was nagging her. She says she has made many mistakes in the past. I encouraged her by telling her that she cannot erase the past, reminding her that all she can do is focus on the present and the future. It is good to regret your mistakes because you can learn from them, but you should not let your past haunt you to the point where you give up completely and/or you stumble in discouragement.
Saul was a religious fanatic. He had been a “big wheel” in Judaism for years, and suddenly, a man named Jesus of Nazareth who claimed to be the Old Testament LORD God showed up in Israel. According to Saul, Jesus was not only an imposter, but Jesus was also a threat to Saul’s religion! Saul would travel the borders of Israel torturing followers of Jesus Christ. This Pharisaical zealot would persecute anyone who claimed Jesus as Christ and Lord, having them arrested and thrown in prison, or put to death.
In Acts 26:9-11 KJV, Saul (now the Apostle Paul) explains his life prior to salvation:
“9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.”
And in Galatians 1:13,14 KJV Paul writes:
“13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”
As the Jews stoned their prophet Stephen Saul cheered them on and held their clothes. Saul participated in the murder of yet another messenger of God (Acts 7:58–8:4). How horrible!
After Saul had captured just about every believing Jew in Jerusalem, the chief priest of Israel granted Saul the permission to extradite (send back) any believing Jews who were living in Damascus. Acts chapter 9 is a pivotal point in Bible history: as Saul is angrily riding to Damascus, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ strikes Saul of Tarsus to the ground, blinding him with a great light. Saul of Tarsus, the man who took pride in wreaking havoc on the Jerusalem assembly of believers, was just another of the world’s lost religious zealots. This lofty and hypocritical man was now lying face down on the ground, and now saved by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour!
Saul of Tarsus would become the great Apostle Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). Throughout his ministry of about 35 years, the Lord brought Paul through horrible beatings, imprisonments, persecutions, torturing, shipwrecks, and abandonments (1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 4:8-10; 2 Corinthians 11:22-27). Never once did Paul forget those times back in Jerusalem, years before, when he “persecuted the church of God, and wasted [destroyed] it” (Galatians 1:11-14). Although he killed the Lord’s followers in unbelief and ignorance, he could never go back and “undo!”
The Lord kept Paul going, and Paul never let his past hinder him. As he wrote to the Philippians, “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ” (3:13-14). In other words, look forward to Christ, and do not look back or you will get discouraged!
The poor Apostle “fought the good fight of faith,” day in and day out, suffering along the way (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Not long after writing the epistle of 2 Timothy, Paul went to be in the presence of the Lord. As a wise Christian brother told me, “Paul was no wimp, so we should not be wimps either.” Paul survived because he relied on the Lord, completely; the power was not in Paul’s strength: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Paul was an ordinary man with an extraordinary God. Everyone is an ordinary person, but every believer in Christ Jesus has an extraordinary God! The Lord will get His children though all these struggles of life, until the trumpet call to go home!
I have many regrets about my own past. For years, I could have allowed the Lord to do His good work in me, but I was ignorant in the Holy Scriptures. I would never discuss with anyone some of those mistakes I have made. But, we all make mistakes, we are all sinners, and we all need salvation. We can never go back to the past and change it. We have the future, so remember, “redeem the time”—buy up the time for God’s glory. Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV says:
“15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
And Colossians 4:5 says, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” So, redeem the time, while you still have the opportunity to redeem it!