** Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies….** Colossians 3:12a
Do we all find the letters of Paul an interesting read? I think about the man that Paul was as Saul. The Book of Acts tells us that he was the leader of those that wanted the New Testament Christians dead or jailed. He was a fanatical Mosaic Law declarer. He always kept the law and felt it was his job to be judge and jury over those who didn’t.
Saul was a cruel tyrant. He was mean, condemning, and brutal, even a bit sadistic as he seemed to take pleasure in watching followers of Christ die in front of him. He spared no expense to see them suffer. Their pain and suffering fueled his hatred of them.
And then the Road to Damascus happened.
Light shined all around him. He was blinded by it’s brilliance. It knocked him to the ground. It brought him low. He had to be led by his servants to the next town. He was humbled and rendered useless. No longer could he recognize Jesus’ followers on sight. His purpose in life ended in a moment’s time.
Many years pass, and he has traveled to nearly every corner of the Mediterranean borders sharing the very message he despised. He has been shipwrecked, beaten, whipped, and left for dead over the years. He has experienced every bit of the pain he had caused others. Now, from prison, the converted Saul, -Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ, -speaks to those he has led to Christ, to the churches that he planted and tells them…
**Put on……bowels of mercies….**
Mercies….not giving people what they deserve.
Mercies….giving others another chance to change.
Mercies…generously blessing your offender.
Mercies….a heart of compassion and pardon.
How would you define mercy?
Paul’s journey from Damascus was a long one, over many years and miles and sufferings. I imagine none of us would want to live either of Saul/Paul’s lives. We wouldn’t want to be so cruel or to feel all the pain and fear that he did.
But, mercy….I would like to live up to the mercy that he learned. I imagine that Paul was a completely changed man. I imagine that few of his old cohorts recognized him. They must have asked themselves–‘Who is this merciful, sacrificing, singing man? What happened to our buddy who led us on a crusade to murder Christ’s followers? What changed him?
The answer to their question?
And mercy filled his soul.