It's too easy to get caught up in your accomplishments, your "calling," your awards and your pedigree. While all of these don't apply to every one of us, they do, in general, describe our tendency to get caught up in "self."
I was watching as one of the Olympic competitors proudly strutted out where all could see him. He was going to swim against the best in the world and he was sure of victory. He had beaten Michael Phelps before. He could use his showiness to intimidate the competition. The problem was, the competition didn't get the memo. They sat focused on the race ahead. Mr. "hot stuff" didn't win, place or show. He was 4th and missed the podium.
Paul had every reason to be a proud Jew. He had studied under the prestigious Gamaliel. He was the new superstar of Pharisees, knowing and doing all the right things. His family and his religion was proud of their "hot" new star! But Paul finally learned what to do with his status, his pedigree, his pride, his stellar education, his hands-on training persecuting Christians and his potential as a "Pharisee of Pharisees." He gave it up.
We have to wonder how this all happened. Here's my theory. I think that Saul, later Paul, had one conversation with Jesus and that was all it took. Many people met Jesus during His ministry and one of two things happened. They either gathered in their pride, their stuff, their prestige, their "self" and kept it all to themselves, or they gave it all up. Jesus said, "If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it" (Luke 9:24). Paul met Jesus ... Paul met himself ... Paul found Jesus all-sufficient and found himself lacking. Paul decided that he could either give up himself or give up Jesus. He chose wisely. What about you? Randy