Often we see someone who once was a ‘sinner’ but now the person has changed a lot. We wonder whether he really has changed. Has he really repented? And thus we stay on guard when we encounter that person. Or, we act normally but question his integrity in our hearts.
That happened in Paul’s early days of repentance. People questioned him in their hearts. As he used to raise havoc in Jerusalem among Jesus’ followers and take them as prisoners to the chief priests (v.21). There was even a conspiracy to kill him (v.23). It’s difficult for them to believe him.
However, when God changes someone’s heart, that person will turn around wholeheartedly. He doesn’t wait long or neglect Jesus’ presence in his life. He shows a progress and the evidence becomes stronger each day. Only days after his eyes had recovered, Paul (that time was still known as ‘Saul’) began to preach in the synagogues about the deity of Jesus Christ (v.20). Even though many people still didn’t believe him, Paul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah (v.22).
We learn 2 things here.
First, a person can change. Even we - ourselves, have changed. Do not judge someone based on his / her past. God might have done marvelous work inside the person. It could also happen to us, that people don’t believe us as a new born person. Don’t lose heart. Saul kept moving forward.
Second, if we do have changed, there must be a progress. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you … “ (2 Cor 13:5). A true repentance changes the whole direction. Yes, we could lose ways sometimes, but it won’t be long. Our longing has changed. Our goal is different now. We want to be holy, and dedicated to please our Lord Jesus Christ.
Keep up the good work. May God bless and help us all. Amen.