It's easy to hate isn't it? It's a simple thing to hear about "cop killers", murderers, and people who do wicked acts; it's easy to be angry at them and dismiss them as horrible, sinful people. It's easy to get in heated arguments with people who have opposing views on morality and faith.
Anti-abortionists, homosexual haters, racists, and holier-than-thou attitudes abound, even in supposed Christian circles. But is this attitude justified? Are we to dismiss someone so quickly?
What about Paul? The apostle, a faithful servant of Christ, formerly known as Saul... What does he say about himself?
In Acts 22, speaking about Christians he says "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women."
From the end of Acts 7 to the beginning of Acts 8 he says "And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul approved of his execution."
In Acts 8 he says "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."
And how about Acts 9? He says "But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem."
So Saul was a wicked man who threw Christians into prison and persecuted them even to the death. He was a murderer.
If Hitler had confessed his sins and become a faithful follower of Christ would you be able to forgive him? God forgave Saul. He forgave him and changed him into a new man. He changed his heart, his mind, and even his name. And while those who knew Paul were skeptical, there were clearly others who believed his message and accepted him as a faithful example of a Christian.
Paul's story is a inspiring example of God's forgiveness. You don't have to die in your sins, no matter how bad you may feel you have been. You may feel hopeless and beyond repair, but nothing is beyond the capability and forgiveness of God. His grace and mercy are beyond anything we deserve, but He loves us. And He can change us if we let Him. He gave us His most amazing son Jesus, who came in the form of man to be the ultimate example of love and sacrifice. He died at our hands to wipe out our death and sin if we only believe in Him and obey Him.
If Paul can turn from such horrible acts of evil, repent, and change his life to one of love and obedience to Christ, then why can't we? Instead of becoming angry and judgemental the next time you think about someone and the horrible thing(s) they've done, perhaps you could feel sorrow for them and pray to the most loving, caring God of the universe to change their heart. Maybe you could even help them. Study with them. Tell them about Christ. Show them real love. Show them that although they may be your enemy because of their actions you still care about their soul.
Maybe you can plant a seed. And maybe, just maybe, that seed will grow like the seed that grew in Paul's heart.