"Saul was consenting to his (Stephen's) execution." Acts 8: 1a
Many people carry guilt from their past lives, and often are unable to let it go. This burden helps no one, especially the person who is guilty. Unless we learn to put aside our past lives with all its mistakes and trust God's mercy, we hamper the advancement of the Gospel.
St Paul could have drowned in the guilt of his early life. Systematically persecuting Christians, Paul was righteous in defense of his interpretation of the Torah, but once he encountered the Lord, his life changed radically. Not only did he not wallow in guilt, he let the Spirit of God transform him in such a way that all the energy he spent in chasing down Christians was turned into zeal for the Gospel.
Paul knew, as all of us must if we have been truly converted, that the Gospel had to preached and he could not let anything get in the way of his new mission. Even though Paul quietly consented to the martyrdom of Stephen, and afterwards no doubt regretted his failure to act, he let the grace of God impel him to proclaim Jesus' identity as Son of God with power and passion.
Today, encourage someone who is struggling with guilt.
How do you respond to lingering guilt?