So, I've been reading the Book of Acts lately, and I must say that I've always admired the boldness of the Apostle Paul. He never appeared to be afraid to take a stand. He would confront whomever, whenever. If he saw something out of order, he addressed it.
For example, at one point Paul traveled ahead of Silas and Timotheus to Athens. He went there only to wait for them so that they could all travel somewhere else together. But when Paul saw that the people of Athens created a temple to "The Unknown God", he had to speak up. The Bible says "his spirit was stirred up". So, he boldly preached Jesus there with no backup.
Another instance is when a woman with a spirit of divination followed the disciples as they traveled. The woman admitted that Paul and the disciples were true men of God. But it bothered Paul that this woman possessed the spirit of divination. The Bible says he was grieved in his spirit about the situation. So, he cast the spirit out of her.
Yet one more example is when Paul was beaten and thrown in jail for casting the spirit of divination out of the woman (Paul messed up some people's finances when he ridded her of her fortune telling abilities). When the guard came and told Paul he was released from prison, Paul boldly spoke against the rulers. Paul retorted that since he was beaten and condemned publicly, then they should come and release him publicly.
In other words, Paul said "Oh, no baby! Keep that same energy!" "Come release me publicly in the same way you beat me publicly!"
And surprisingly, they agreed and came and released Paul themselves. Paul took no prisoners and held no punches. Paul was as some people say "not to be played with". He was a true, bold solider for Christ.
But there was another side to Paul that is worth mentioning. Paul, in all his grand boldness, had moments of vulnerability. In Acts 20:19, Paul states that while he served the Lord with all humility, he did it with many tears and temptations due to the Jews who opposed him. Often whenever Paul went into a city to preach, he would convert non-believers.
But the Jews were always not to far behind, convincing some of the converts that Paul was a liar. In one city, the Jews riled up the crowd so intensely that they went from believing Paul to stoning him. They stoned him so badly that they assumed he was dead.
Thus, although he never stopped his bold preaching, he had understandable moments where he was apprehensive of completing his ministry. Can you imagine an angry mob following you every where you go to preach? A mob that threatens to rile up the crowd and possibly kill you just because you are doing what God told you to do?
As bold as Paul was, he admitted that he cried often and was sometimes afraid to keep pressing on. But Paul makes it very clear as to why he kept pressing.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
(Acts 20:24, KJV)
Paul never forgot that he had to finish his course. He never forgot that his life on earth was temporary, and that he would be rewarded handsomely if he finished the work God placed him here to do. Remember Jesus called Paul out by name on the road to Damascus. He was hand-picked by God to deliver the gospel to both the Jews and Gentiles.
To be hand-picked by Jesus should give anyone enough fuel to complete their course regardless of the many tears they shed. And if you don't think you were hand-picked by God to complete a work, then think again.
You are here because God placed you here to do a great work. Regardless of the tears, regardless of the temptations, regardless of the urge to quit, God has placed you here to finish your course with joy.
Paul had a thorn in his flesh that he couldn't get rid of, he faced plenty of affliction, and he shed many tears. He did this because he was human. He was just as human as you and me. I think sometimes we take the humanity out of Christianity. Sometimes we forget that God gives us the grace to be vulnerable and apprehensive at times. It's okay to shed tears and have feelings that are not grounded in boldness all the time.
But the key is to not stay in vulnerability and apprehensiveness. The key is to have your moment of being completely human but to at some point step back into your boldness. Remember God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mine (2 Timothy 1:7). He would also have us complete our work with joy just like Paul. But how can we do that if we live in vulnerability? We must walk in boldness despite our moments of weakness, despite our tears, and despite our afflictions.
So, when you think of Paul, remember his boldness. But also remember his humanity. He was merely a man with emotions. A man hand-picked by God just like me - just like you. So regardless of your emotions, go forward and finish your course. Go and complete your work. And do it in boldness, just like the bold, but completely vulnerable and human, Apostle Paul.
Be Blessed and Have a Great Week!