They hated him.
And rightfully so.
He had killed, imprisoned, and tortured many men and women in God's name. And now he was here, expecting to be among them, and treated like one of them.
He shifted uncomfortable in his seat. Was it warm in here? Saul resisted from fanning himself in front of their scrutinizing gazes that seared him like the hot sun.
He closed his eyes against the memories of women screaming, men who were bloodied and dying, families who were destroyed. If only he had known then what he knew now. He laughed ruefully to himself. If only he had known he would be sitting in the same room with the same people he had persecuted months before.
Now all he could do was do what he should have done then. Be kind and gentle despite how they treated him. Act in love.
Based on Acts 8:1-3 and 9:26
"And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison." Acts 8:1-3
And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple." Acts 9:26
Did your grandmother ever say, "You can catch more flies with honey then you can with vinegar?"
Personally, I think honey is just as gross as vinegar, but you catch the drift of the saying. It's important to be nice, kind, and gentle. Nobody learns by being slapped upside the head.
"What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?"
1 Corinthians 4:21 (The Bible version of grandma's saying.)
I had a lot of trouble coming up with a "story" to illustrate this truth. Finally, I went back to Acts and looked at Saul/Paul again. Do you think he had a moment like this, when everyone was afraid to be around him and hated him? I don't see how he couldn't. I bet it was a real, humbling moment for him.
If we are going to act like God, then there is no dragging someone away by the hair. There is no slapping someone upside the head. There is not a rod used to beat sense into someone. There is just love and gentleness. That is the way someone learns, and that is the way someone has to teach. That is the way we need to handle others. Honey, not hair-pulling. That's what we want, so that's what we should give. Regardless of who they are, or what they have done in the past.
V. Joy Palmer