Quick to Remember, Slow to Forget
We, as humans, possess great memories. Some better than others, but still, we are able to remember what we want. If you are like me, I have the impeccable ability to remember other’s faults. I admit it is not my most fabulous trait. The trait becomes useful when I want to remind friends of how bad they are or how much better I am. This character flaw in me is something people have always dealt with, even in the emergence of the Church.
Saul, now known to most as Paul, has a few things remembered about him: His conversion on the way to Damascus, his extensive ministry throughout much of the known world, and his authorship of the majority of the New Testament.
In Acts 9, we find people did not remember him at first by the conversion or the writings, but by his censuring and slamming of the Church. Although his hatred was awful and caused havoc, God still stepped into his life. God makes it clear through Saul’s life that no one is too far off to enter the Kingdom and become a son of God.
While being blind and probably wondering what the future would hold for his life, someone stepped in—Ananias. Through the courage of the Lord, Ananias threw off his presuppositions about Saul and helped him.
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized and taking good her was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. Acts 9: 17-19.
Then after proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and confessing his Lordship, Saul became the focus of attacks from the Jews in Damascus. So his disciples helped him escape. His next stop was Jerusalem, the place from where he came. Saul was known in Jerusalem as the persecutor of those belonging to the Way. As can be expected, the Christians in Jerusalem were skeptical of the former persecutor joining their group.
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
I am sure I would have been like the disciples. I am quick to remember the previous actions of others and slow to accept others into my group—especially the one who is attacking me. But Barnabas, the son of encouragement, steps in and vouches for Saul in Acts 9:27,
But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.
Barnabas took a risk for Saul. Barnabas took the chance to be associated with Saul, his persecutor, and risked losing friendships with the other disciples. He calculated the costs and figured Saul was worth it. Barnabas counter acted the human nature. Instead of remembering the past quickly, he was slow to remember. Instead of slowly accepting, he was quick to support.
As I now live in another country, I am often quick to pass judgments. I remember those people who look at me strange because I am a foreigner or I don’t speak Korean properly. Even as a teacher I remember the faults of my students. I remember those who did not try from the previous semester and I have the tendency to not give them the attention they deserve. But I am reminded by Barnabas and Saul that I should be slow to remember and quick to build a friendship, and to be quick to remember the underserving grace lavished upon me and to be quicker to extend it to others.
Do you ever have the same problem I have? An inclination to be quick to judge others and slow to remember the grace I was given? Thank God for his grace and steadfast love towards us and may we find His strength to extend it to anyone we come in contact with.