Acts 26:29 Paul replied, “Short time or long–I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
As we read on September 23rd, when Paul – then Saul – was sitting blind in the house of Judas in Damascus, God explicitly told Ananias, “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16) Here we have him boldly evangelizing King Agrippa! Two things were certainly characteristic of Paul: seeing everyone as equal, and unflinching boldness. Some people want to see everyone else as equally beneath them, and others really resent it when someone seems to place themselves on their level. This incredibly bold declaration by Paul was inviting everyone to come to his level, and that is the attitude every child of God should have. We get caught in the trap of feeling big only when others are small, not realizing that when we are dealing with an infinite God, the very idea of a “zero-sum game” is an absurdity. There’s always more available! We’re used to dealing with a finite “pie,” and if one person’s “slice” is bigger, another person’s share will be smaller. That’s not how God works! When more people enter the family of God by faith, nobody loses – except maybe the devil. Paul didn’t limit his invitation to the very influential king, he extended it to all who could hear him. That’s the boldness we all need.
As I have written before, the circumstances of my childhood taught me that “bigwigs” are just as human as the rest of us, and I have always approached everyone from what I considered an equal footing. I have enormous respect for those greatly used by God – meeting Dennis Balcombe felt like meeting Paul – but I know that what makes them special is the same God who created and loves me, too. At the same time, I’m not a “natural evangelist,” twisting every conversation into a Gospel presentation. Tomorrow I will be speaking to a Rotary Club meeting about the differences in patterns of giving in the West and in Japan. Such men tend to be highly placed in local society, and it’s probable that I know several of them, but the odds of any of them being Christians are low. The notes the Lord has given me are very clear that it’s the God of the Bible who motivates people to true generosity, but I’m definitely not to talk down to them in the least. Like Paul, I’m to seek to bring them to where I am, regardless of any differences they might perceive between us. God is big enough for us all!
Father, thank You for this very timely reminder. I’ve been asked for a manuscript of my remarks for tomorrow, but I can’t provide that ahead of time! I pray that I would operate in full humility and submission to You, so that Your words may flow through me as You desire, accomplishing Your purposes in the hearts of all who hear, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!