Kicking Against the Goads

by Whit Sasser

A goad is an animal prod -- a stick that is jabbed into the hind section of, say a plowing ox, to stimulate better forward movement. Almost instinctively, the animal may be aggravated by the prodding goad and kick against it. People can be the same way.

In a figurative sense, people can be prodded by something said or done, and likewise, their instinct or natural response may at first be to resist it -- in a sense, to kick against it. People do not like being goaded. But sometimes it may lead to a better end, especially if it is God’s Providence at work.

The apostle Paul, before being baptized into Christ, was exposed to some things said or done that Jesus knew were goading Saul (Paul’s earlier name) and Jesus goes on to add that it was hard on him. "And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads" (Acts 26:14).

We can speculate as to what the goads were, but it would be just a guess. One fact, not at all a guess, is what Jesus says about Saul persecuting Jesus in connection with something goading him and Saul struggling with it -- it was hard on him.

I wonder if in Paul persecuting Christians (Christ) and witnessing how they responded if that was getting to him? I wonder if this was a revelation to Saul -- meaning he did not know this about himself, but that Jesus lay bare? But, whether Saul knew it or not, it was the case and it led to him being saved.

We, too, may go through similar experiences. Possibly it is even God in His Providence bringing us to our senses; to repent and believe the gospel of Christ. But, like Saul, we may, for a while, flail against the proddings of the Lord. If so, is it grievous to you? Is your conscience bothered? And will you respond like Saul and obey the gospel and change?

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