Near the conclusion of his defense before King Agrippa, the king tells Paul, “With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian”. Paul answers, “I would to God, that whether with little or with much, not thou only, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except these bonds.” (Acts 26:29) To wish that others might be “as I am” is not boastful egotism with Paul. This is evident as he invites others to “Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) Elsewhere, he encourages such imitating of himself and “them that so walk” (Phil. 3:17). And just what does that involve?
To be as Paul is to be a Christian. This is obviously what he has in mind in the statement made to Agrippa. If one is like Paul he is willing to acknowledge his wrongs and make the necessary changes to be right. Such humility and self-denial are fundamental in the serious business of following Christ. So is the faith demonstrated by Paul. When a man is like Paul his faith will lead him to do what Paul did in becoming a Christian, including putting on Christ in the baptism that puts away sins (Gal. 3:27; Acts 22:16). Paul saw salvation in Christ and being a Christian as blessings to be more treasured than any earthly gain (Phil. 3:7,8). His continuing aim and effort was to be well pleasing unto the Lord (2 Cor. 5:9). Agrippa and all sinners, both then and now, need to become Christians as Paul did; then, being a Christian should be to every Christian what it was to Paul! After all, to be as Paul is to have all spiritual blessings.
Further, to be like Paul means helping others to become Christians. He says, “I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22) In this work he sees himself as poor, “yet making many rich.” (2 Cor. 6:10) None can make valid claim to being like Paul or the Christ he served without being deeply concerned about lost souls. Like Paul, our concern needs translating into meaningful efforts to teach and influence the lost. “Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord”, he says, “we persuade men…” (2 Cor. 5:11) — that is what the unsaved need, and that’s what the saved need to be doing. With every conversion we disprove the allegation that “no one will listen” or that “no one wants the truth anymore”. When we develop a soul-consciousness and concern such as Paul possessed, we won’t have to wait for someone to start a personal-work class or give us a name to go visit. What more motivation do we need than to simply remember the value of the soul or the fate of the sinner? To be like Paul here is to care — to the point of commitment.
Finally, to be like Paul means being willing to invite others to be such as I am”. Not only are we to be imitators, we are to be ensamples (as were the Thessalonians, 1 Thes. 1:6,7). Could I, as Paul, wish that all were as I am? If not, then obviously, I am not as I need to be and changes are in order. Paul was willing to confess wrong and change. As we imitate him and do likewise, we become well-pleasing to the Lord and ensamples worthy of imitation by our families, our brethren and the world.