The life of the Apostle Paul always amazes me. When I think about a stubborn and gritty guy, he is at the top of my list. Before meeting Jesus, he was so zealous for religion and the law that he dragged hundreds of Christians from their homes and had them killed. He was passionate for Judaism and sold out for “righteousness,” but it never occurred to him that the Jesus he was persecuting was actually the Messiah…until He appeared to him. Blinded by the light of the Son and humbled before the Lord of All on the road to Damascus, his prideful heart was brought low, and he received a new call. God saw fit to change his course and invited him to use his brilliant mind to reason with unbelieving Jews and Gentiles. In fact, when he accepted the invitation to become a servant of Christ, his grit and tenacity were put to even greater use. Shipwrecked, imprisoned, and living as a vagabond, being strong-willed was vital to surviving the ups and downs of his journey. Yet there was something different about him after his conversion. While people didn’t matter before he was saved, through the power of God’s Spirit, they quickly became his top priority. Yes, he was strong, but never at the expense of others. He made time to heal, love, and show compassion, and that’s what set him apart. He was gritty but gentle and tender but tough.
My friend, it’s wise to learn from the Apostle Paul. He needed to be both stubborn and soft to carry out his call, and the same is true today. The road of a disciple is not easy, and spiritual and emotional toughness are required to keep standing strong in the face of adversity. But such a tenacious stance is only made possible by love. Because you’re accepted unconditionally by your Savior, you’re empowered to be rugged in your convictions yet unfailingly kind toward others, even when you’re under duress. Since the Holy Spirit gives you unlimited grace, you can affirm the image of God in people while remaining unwavering in your passion for His unchanging Word.