Here in the second part of Galatians 1, Paul shares his personal story, and in doing so, I see a twofold purpose. First, he wants to make it clear to the Galatians that he is a reliable teacher; that he knows what he is talking about. Second, he is weaving his personal testimony into the letter as a means of adding persuasive impact to his point about the false teaching they have embraced, so that they might be edified and lifted up in their Christian walk, and I hope you will pay special attention to that as his story continues into the next chapter.
Notice how he begins his testimony by pointing out that the Gospel he preached to them was not made up by any man, but that it was revealed directly to him by none other than Jesus Christ Himself. He goes on to remind them of the fact that he was a Jew among Jews, a Pharisee further advanced than his age would normally allow, and that he wanted nothing more than to advance the traditions of Judaism. He sought to do this by persecuting most fervently the church, and was well-known for his efforts as he moved beyond Judea in pursuit of Christians to torment. Then, he recounts his experiences after his encounter with Christ on that famous road trip.
Finally, he sets the stage for his discussion of the interaction between Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ in the next chapter by reminding them of how everyone celebrated his conversion and praised God for it.
Here’s what I’d like for all of us to consider: We all have a story, even though it probably isn’t a well-known one. How can we help others by sharing our story with them? You know, there isn’t anything quite as potent as a personal testimony, an experience, a personal recollection, when helping someone else with their walk. Often, just the fact that you have encountered a similar challenge and gotten through it will inspire someone to keep trying. You might be talking with a person who is struggling to understand, and when you share your experience at a similar stage in your growth it will really resonate with them.
If you are speaking with a non-Christian who is searching for truth, you will most likely have something to share about your experience in a similar position. Understand that when we share our story, we are not the “hero” of the story: Jesus is. Frank admission of how far we might have once strayed is powerful, and you will note that Paul didn’t hesitate to share this.
Can you see how honestly sharing from our hearts about our own experiences with others can help their journey? Good. Can you see how this differs from making speeches or some kind of canned presentation? Can you see how much more powerful this is?