"They only heard the report: 'The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.' And they praised God because of me." - Galatians 1:23-24
Paul had started the young churches in the region of Galatia, but now they were floundering because some false teachers had led them astray (Galatians 1:6-10). Instead, they had needed to be encouraged and enfolded to remember the good news of Jesus and to live for him alone.
So Paul tells briefly how God changed him from a persecutor of Christ-followers to a fully committed ambassador of Jesus (see Acts 9). His transformation was not about him but about Jesus. And eventually he went to Jerusalem to meet with the leaders of the church who lived there. Then Paul moved on to spread the gospel to regions north of Judea. And when the churches in Judea heard about him, the Spirit made clear that Paul was truly converted to "preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." That brought all the believers to praise God. And instead of fearing Paul, they rejoiced on account of him.
People who come to know Jesus as their Savior need to be received with praise to God. They have been saved from darkness and brought into the light. They need friends who will bless them and encourage them.
Do you know someone whom you can encourage in this way? Be sure to do so!
God of grace, move us to praise and give thanks to you for bringing sinners to your Son, Jesus, and guide us to encourage and enfold them. Amen.