In the last devotional I wrote about Paul’s conversion, in this one I wanted to focus in a little more on Ananias, who played a key role in Paul’s conversion.
“In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered.
The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.’
‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. – Acts 9:10-19
Ananias obeyed the Lord, even though it seemed that there could be great personal danger involved. At that time, Saul was an enemy of the Church and his persecution was well known. Even if Ananias himself did not suffer harm from Saul, he would be helping a man who had caused great suffering for his brothers and sisters in Christ. However, loving and praying for Saul and people like him was exactly what Jesus had instructed his followers to do.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. – Matthew 5:43-44
Because Ananias was faithful to do what the Lord had called him to do, he was used by God to heal Saul and be a part of baptizing him and leading him to become a Christian.
“Then he [Ananias] said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to seethe Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ – Acts 22:14-16
Ananias had to take a step of faith in obeying Christ. When he did, he got the chance to be a part of God’s amazing work.
After his conversion, Saul changes his name to Paul and rocks the world through his work for Christ. He plants many churches and writes much of the New Testament while boldly preaching the truth. Following his conversion, he becomes one of the central figures in scripture and the early church. Through the Holy Spirit he was led to write the words of God in scripture that have been handed down through generations.
Ananias on the other hand, is barely mentioned in scripture after this story. Here and then later in Acts 22 when Paul recounts his conversion are the only places he is specifically mentioned. (Note: There are three people with the name Ananias in scripture. Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 and Ananias the high priest in Acts 23-24 are the other two.) While the rest of Ananias’s life and ministry are unknown to us, his faithfulness to obey the Lord and minister to Paul while Paul was still considered an enemy of the Church means that he was able to have a hand in reaching the world for Christ in a big way.
We will certainly never be Paul, but we may never have a large ministry or be in leadership of a church either. We may not speak to large crowds or write words read by thousands, but we could possibly play the role Ananias played. As we faithfully carry out scripture and live according to God’s leading, we might play a part in reaching someone who could go on to have a “Paul-like” impact. Never underestimate the value of ministering to one person. Do not neglect the power of a single act of obedience towards God’s leading. We will never know all the people the Lord uses us to reach for His glory.
Whether we see many people come to Christ ourselves or through others that we have impacted or even if we don’t get the chance to see much fruit with our own eyes, the call is the same. Our faithfulness–which the Lord gives us the strength to display–is honoring to Him and relationship with Him is a greater reward than we could ever conceive.