I remember an old song that mom used to play on our record player back in the 50’s when I was just a kid. The song was “Big Man” by the Four Preps. It said, “I was a big man yesterday, but boy you ought to see me now. I talked big yesterday, but boy you ought to see me now…” On the first missionary Journey Saul’s name was changed to Paul. He was named after the first King of Israel who as you might remember was head and shoulders taller than anyone around. But Saul, our missionary according to Acts 13:9, took on the name of his first gentile convert, Sergius Paulus. Paul comes from the Roman family name, Paulus, which means small or humble. Yes, Saul was a big man yesterday, but boy you ought to see him now.

Yes indeed, Saul talked big yesterday. In Philippians 3:3-8 we read about this radical change from the “big” man to the “small” man. . . . though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. Yep, this Saul guy was pretty impressive. Notice the last claim that according to legalistic righteousness Saul said he was “faultless.” But when Jesus knocked him to his knees and blinded him, Paul realized that his own righteousness was worthless in the sight of God. The Philippians passage goes on, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. 

It may have taken Paul some time to comprehend the true worthlessness of good works and self-righteousness, but when it sank in, it changed everything about him. When we come to realize that all our “righteousness is as filthy rags” as Isaiah 64:6 puts it, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Yep, we were big men and women yesterday, but boy you ought to see us now. We talked big yesterday, but boy you ought to see us now. But when we become “small” like Paul, we learn to rest confidently and comfortably on the righteousness that belonged to Christ and Christ alone. We are truly humbled regarding our own abilities to live up to all the rituals, rules, regulations and resolutions that religion will force upon us. We become dependent on the finished work of Christ as our only source of true righteousness. May we be found IN HIM!