A few weeks ago I lead our youth Bible Study on the theme of “Identity.” I opened our lesson with this statement: “I’m about to tell you a story about a woman who brought her entire town to Christ. But before I do so, I would like for you to make a list of attributes you believe she possessed. What type of person do you believe she was? What about her family? Career? Reputation?”
The students went on to make a list. And here’s the list: Leader, highly respected, likable, well versed in the Bible, credible, well educated, strong support (team), motivator, great speaker, giving, pure heart, loving, strong faith, and strong prayer life. We wrote this list on a white board, and I told the students to keep this list in mind as we read the story of the Samaritan Woman.
Nothing like the List
As I read about this Samaritan Woman’s encounter with Jesus, the students quickly learned that she was nothing like the list. She was not at all whom they expected to save an entire town. She was nothing like whom they expected to bring an entire town to the saving knowledge of Jesus the Messiah. Instead here’s her list: Heartbroken- she had five failed marriages. Outsider- she was an outsider because of her ethnicity. Unsuccessful- Marriage was a symbol of status and success for women, she failed in marriage and now lives with a man who is not her husband. Unsaved- she did not know the Messiah, the Savior of the world, until this very moment.
Because of What She Said
Many of us know her story, but if you don’t, this woman made a game changing move in the Kingdom of God. This broken woman became an instant evangelist an told anyone who would listen about Jesus. She didn’t wait to go to Seminary, or wait be ordained, she just shared what The Lord had done for her. She also didn’t wait to get her life together before she dropped all she had, to run and tell everyone in her town. “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him (Jesus) because of the woman’s testimony” John 5:13.
God’s Chosen Instrument
Like the Samaritan Woman, Paul also had a past. Before this pillar in the Christian faith wrote half of the New Testament; Paul was known as Saul and was a member of a strict religious group called the Pharisees. Paul and the Pharisees rejected Jesus as Messiah and rejected His practices. Paul would go house to house persecuting Christians for their faith, even to the point of death.
When the Lord called one of His disciples, Ananias, to get the infamous Saul, Ananias responded: “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But God answered Ananias and said: “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles” Acts 9: 13-15.
God Uses the Imperfect
Like the Samaritan woman and Saul, God will use you in spite of your past. She was broken and living in sin, however the Messiah allowed her to be forgiven and set free to tell others of about the Messiah. Paul persecuted and mocked Christians, but God used him in a mighty way to win souls for Christ.
God will also use your past as an instrument to relate and save others from similar circumstances. Failed relationships, miscarriages, drug abuse, lying, abortion, promiscuity, a harsh tongue, sexual abuse, depression, etc; God can use them all to win others over for Christ. Your unique testimony is an essential piece to your purpose. No one can impact others the way you will.
Remember God’s Promises
1.The Multitude of our Trials, are a measure of your strength– God will not allow us our circumstances to brake us. In fact He wants us to endure trials and become even stronger because of them.
- “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” 1 Corinthians 10:13.
- “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:2-4.
2.God will make even our mistakes work out for our good- When experiences are painful or when we deal with the consequences of our sin; God will not allow His children to suffer in vain. He will use those experiences for your benefit.
- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28
I am confident, “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6. If we love God, and commit ourselves to His will, He will complete our stories. God is a Redeemer and will restore all who are willing and open to His transforming power. I pray you are encouraged to use your past for the ministry of the Gospel of Christ, and not an excuse or shameful secret that keeps you from your calling in Christ. Step into your purpose and allow God to use your past to save others.