“ And they glorified God because of me”–Galatians 1:24
In 2004, a young and virtually unknown singer named Kelly Clarkson wrote and recorded a song entitled ‘ Because of You’ that became one of the most popular hits in the pop music scene during the 2000’s. The song’s beautiful melodies are strangely interwoven with the painful and distressing lyrics that tell the story of Clarkson’s broken relationship with her father. Listening to it, one is both drawn to its melodious attractiveness and repulsed by its dark message.
Its chorus is heartbreaking:
Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid
The blunt lesson this tune sets forth is simple enough, and it is one that reflects a truth that all Christians can confidently embrace: The way that we live, the decisions we make, the words we use, and the attitudes we manifest sometimes have a life-changing impact upon others either for good or ill.
Now, I believe I know what you’re thinking. This is supposed to be a Monday note of encouragement, yet I have successfully introduced a wave of sadness or regret into your week. Every one of us has, at one time or another, done or said something that has deeply discouraged or damaged another person. And for us fathers, we are especially sensitive to our frequent parental failings, and we fear how they will play out in the lives of our children. However, this is not the main reason I have referred to this popular, but terribly tragic song.
To the contrary, there is a most wonderful and reassuring message here for us on this new Monday!
When the Apostle Paul wrote the words from Galatians quoted above, he was speaking of the fact that his fellow-believers among the inhabitants of ancient Syria, Cilicia, and Judea were moved to glorify God “ because” of the amazing transformation that had taken place in his life.
We can see this in verses 21-23:
“21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, ‘He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’”
This is nothing short of incredible to contemplate! The man who was once not simply an unbeliever, but a violent persecutor of the Church (Gal. 1:13), became one who boldly proclaimed the very message he was determined to eradicate from the face of the earth! Such a reversal of life could only result in the glorification of God!
So here is where we discover our encouragement for today.
I would guess that there were also many people who were driven away from the Savior because Paul so desperately opposed Christ and the Gospel in his pre-conversion life. He left much pain and suffering in his wake. This is why he never seemed to forget about it:
“For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God”–1 Corinthians 15:9.
But. . . that wasn’t the end of his story! Grace made him into a new man, put him on a new pathway, commissioned him to a new mission, and filled his soul with a new love for Christ he would even forfeit his life for! And “ because” of God’s grace, mercy, and power at work in Paul others were moved to glorify God!
It’s true enough that even Paul’s life was not pretty at times. Like us, he had also hurt and scarred others deeply, leaving lasting damage to their souls. But even despite this, it was how his life would finish that made the difference!
In the last few decades of his life, the One who called him in grace to be the Apostle to the Gentiles would more than make up for the damage this one man had previously done! Grace seems always to triumph in the end, even over the very worst of our messes!
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Paul’s story can be yours as well!
As you seek to follow and obey Jesus today, others will glorify God “ because” of you! Your Father will make use of your life to stoke the fires of praise in the hearts of other believers, and even in those who are yet to trust in the Savior. A perfect past is not a prerequisite for being used most wonderfully by the omnipotent Lord who has saved you! Grace will prevail in your story as well!
For today, then, be faithful to Him. Love Him. Worship Him. Run to Him in your times of failure and sin. Let His grace and mercy become even stronger in you and dearer to you. And be assured that someone is watching. Your faithfulness to Christ today will be a magnetic summons to the praise of that one Name that stands above them all!
I love you so very much, always,