We have been looking at Paul as our role model for contentment. Previously we concluded that his tolerance of circumstances didn’t come from a savoir faire attitude but from a single-minded focus on his mission to preach the Good News far and wide to the Gentiles. It is easy to look at Paul and to be intimidated into doing nothing at all because our contribution would seem so small next to his, but let’s look at the situation from another angle.
Last time I pointed to Psalm 139 which tells us that God knew us before we were born and had already written the book or our lives, foretell and categorizing all our mighty deeds. Ephesians 2:10 suggests He created and gifted each one of us for those good deeds. We can imagine from there that God has orchestrated our lives to prepare us for the special role we have in His Body.
We can see this in the life of Paul. His parents, though Roman citizens, were fierce Jewish Nationalists and strict legalists. They sent their son to study the law under the preeminent Rabbi of his day, Gamaliel, where he learned to dissect and defend the Jewish scripture including the prophecies about the Messiah. He was raised to be a “Pharisee of Pharisees,” becoming a member of the Sanhedrin which was the highest Jewish Court. Before he became a zealot for Christ, he was zealous for destroying the fledgling church and was on the way to Damascus with plans to do just that when he had a supernatural encounter with Jesus.
This encounter changed Paul’s direction, but it did not change his personality or single-mindedness. His past life was a proving ground for who he would become and what he would accomplish. His biblical training, his headstrong determination and the discipline to do what he considered right had been baked into Paul from the beginning. He never went half-way!
How does this relate to you and me? Just like Paul, God created you for a job only you can do. He placed you in a family and circumstances that nurtured and established in you the qualities and skills you need to fulfill His plan for your life. Romans 8:28 (NLT) says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Christians use that verse to explain and justify a lot, but in this instance, it means that we are being shaped and formed by circumstances to fulfill God’s call and purpose for us. When we add 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT), “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us,” we see that we are being shaped and molded by life to serve Him in a unique way.
Paul was a special man for a special job. You and I are no less special to God, and He has big plans for each of us. We can also be sure that, just as Paul was tailor-made for his assignment, so are we. We must recognize the truth, however, and follow Jesus. The same qualities that made Paul a force for the Gospel could have been used to hinder the Good News if he had continued his original path.
Look at the story of your own life, your own personality and temperament. What matters to you and what are you doing about it? If you surrendered yourself to Jesus, how could He use those things to serve the Kingdom of God and others? Whatever it is, whether is seems large or small in your eyes, it is important to Him, and He has put a massive amount of thought and effort into preparing you for just such a time as this!