JESUS REACHED OUT TO SAUL
Now Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord Jesus. He went to the high priest to ask for a permission letter to give him permission to go to the synagogues in Damascus so that he could work with them to arrest any disciples that he found in Damascus. Damascus is in modern day Syria, north of Israel. As Saul approached Damascus, a sudden bright light from Heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And Saul answered, "Who are you, Lord?" Jesus answered, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but arise, enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do." The men who traveled with him stood speechless. They heard the voice, but they did see no one. Saul got up from the ground but could not see anything, so the men he was traveling with led him to the city of Damascus. He couldn't see for three days and did not eat or drink. (Acts 9:1-9).
No matter what Saul had done against the disciples, our Lord Jesus still reached out to him. We don't know how many believers suffered and died because of his hatred against them. Without realizing what he was doing, he persecuted Jesus even though he was after the believers. We need to understand that every time someone insults or persecutes us because of our faith in Jesus, they persecute our Lord Jesus. He is always with us and knows what we are going through. We could see in the life of Saul that God wanted everyone to be saved no matter what they had done in the past. Many Christians suffered because of what he had done, yet Jesus reached out to him. The indigenous tribe of Ecuador killed five missionaries that came to their territory in the late 1950s, yet later on, God saved them from their sins. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs7TE_AzlME). You can watch the movie "End of Spear" to learn more about their story.
So if we still have difficulty forgiving ourselves for the wrong things we have done in the past, let us be encouraged that God has forgiven our sins. There is no sin that God cannot forgive. We only need to ask Jesus for forgiveness, and He will forgive us immediately. When we receive His forgiveness, we must also forgive those who hurt or offended us. God reached out to Saul despite what He had done.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through these questions carefully and meditate on them while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speaks to you). Do I believe God has forgiven all my sins that I have confessed to Him? Do I still carry the guilt and shame that I have done in the past? Am I willing to forgive just as God has forgiven me?
Father in Heaven, thank you for reaching out to me in my sinfulness. Thank you for loving me even before I knew you. Thank you for forgiving all the sins that I have already confessed to you, and please help me never to walk in guilt and shame. I am free from guilt and shame because you have forgiven me. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for my sins. Please help me to forgive those who have offended and wronged me so that I may honor and glorify you. In your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.