Fast-forward nearly two millenniums and consider another case. Like Moses, this young scholar displayed a youthful love of the law. He studied at the feet of Jerusalem’s finest teachers. He followed the Torah with razor-sharp precision. He aligned himself with the Pharisees, ardent observers of Scripture. They defended the law with zeal. And “zeal” is the term he used to describe his youth. “Zealous?” he wrote. “Yes, in fact, I harshly persecuted the church” (Phil. 3:6 NLT).

Young Saul’s ardor prompted his initial appearance in Scripture. Just like Moses, a murder brought him to the stage. Angry members of the Jewish council “cast [Stephen] out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58).

Call Saul misguided, misled, or mistaken—but don’t call Saul mild. If you scratched him, he bled commitment. Whether he was Saul, the legalist, or Paul, the apostle of grace, he couldn’t sit still. Cause driven. Single-minded. Focused like a hawk on prey. Peter might tolerate the hypocrisy of the church. Not Paul. With him, you were either in or out, cold or hot. Whether persecuting disciples or making them, Paul impacted people. An early strength forecast his lifelong trait.

Max Lucado, Cure for the Common life