Monday, October 12, 2015
Most Bible readers know that Peter cursed and swore that he did not know Jesus (Matthew 26:74). We also know that when the Lord was arrested, the disciples scattered (Matthew 26:56). Human weakness may be seen in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and others. Yet, most see Paul as being just shy of flawless, just a “smidgen” short of Jesus’ perfection.
I’ve been known to tell folks that I’m a better preacher than Paul. He only put one person to sleep, I’ve succeeded in putting dozens into that state (Acts 20:9)! Actually, Paul admits to sinning. He did what he hated even though he attempted to not do so (Romans 7:15). He said “sin . . . produced in me every kind of covetous desire” (Romans 7:8 NIV). He further confessed, “sin deceived me . . . put me to death . . . I am unspiritual . . . sin living in me . . . making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members” (Romans 7:11, 17, 23 NIV). Couldn’t you write the same things about yourself? What happened to that pedestal you and I put Paul on? Did that “smidgen” concept just crumble?
When Jesus rebuked the apostles, wouldn’t we feel the sting too (Matthew 8:26)? When the apostles were arguing among themselves, would we have been in the middle of the conversation (Mark 9:33)? If we had been in the garden while Jesus prayed, wouldn’t we be the first ones to go to sleep (Matthew 26:40)? When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, we wouldn’t have armed ourselves with that second sword to back up Peter, would we? Wouldn’t we have lead the pack as they fled into the night (Luke 22:38; Mark 14:50)? When the young slave girl asked Peter if he was one of Jesus’ disciples and she looked our way, wouldn’t our head have been violently swinging from left to right (Mark 14:66-70)? When others close to Peter followed that girl’s lead, wouldn’t we have given Peter an “Amen,” rather than a rebuke, when he denied by cursing and swearing (Mark 14:71)?
From Adam to Moses, from Moses to Paul, and from Paul to us, every single one of us has sinned and is desperately in need of Jesus’ cleansing blood! In spite of Paul’s accomplishments, he didn’t buy his salvation nor does God love us less because we don’t match up to Paul’s work. Paul needed Jesus just as much as we do. The same crown Paul waited on is the same one we will receive because of what Jesus did, not because our obedience paid for it (2 Timothy 4:8).
Paul was so involved in the Lord’s work that he did not marry nor have children. Does that mean that Paul was honored more by God than husbands who have children and raise them in the Lord? Our works, small or great, do not buy us our salvation. We do not lean upon our works, but upon what Jesus did. He is our Savior, not our accomplishments. “Be thou faithful” isn’t graded upon our perfection, but upon His!