“I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” – Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians (9:23)
Think on that for a moment. Paul, who is our example in so many ways of the Christ-minded person, had at the back of his mind that he wanted to make sure that His life was in the right place with God. I learn so much from Paul’s heart about my life with Jesus!
Here are 3 lessons:
Lesson 1 – Keep the message and person of Jesus constantly before me. This passage in 1 Corinthians shows me that Paul was constantly asking, “How can I show or live out Jesus in the life of this person I am with. If the person was Jewish, Paul asked that question. If the person was Gentile, Paul asked that question. If they were a king, Paul asked that question. If they were an unknown, Paul asked that question. Who they were didn’t keep Paul from asking how he could shine for Jesus. He was always asking the question. I need to be asking it too.
Lesson 2 – Live on purpose, not on accident. The vast majority of the time, we see Paul acting, not reacting. In how he treated people, Paul chose to put the gospel first. When Paul spoke of all the impressive things in his life, Paul chose to lose them rather than lose Christ. (see Philippians 3) In fact, Paul strove toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. His life was far from accidental. He lived on purpose. I need to live my life purposefully, not as a reaction to other things.
Lesson 3 – Live today preparing for tomorrow. Paul wrote to Timothy to prepare himself like a soldier. He wrote the same thing to the church of Ephesus (Ephesians 6). The image of a soldier is one of preparation. They do not train for a battle that they can see today. They train for the battle they see coming and for the battle they cannot yet see. They are prepared. When I think on that, I often wonder, “Am I really preparing for what I am going to face in the future, or am I preoccupied just with the urgent of today?” I know that Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow so we have to guard against preparing becoming a smokescreen for worry. However, if I just pray and read my Bible to satisfy my felt needs of today, am I really becoming ready as a soldier of the cross?
Paul doesn’t just show us some pie in the sky uber-spiritual understanding of the teachings of Jesus. Christ’s teachings changed Paul’s day to day living. That is what I need to do. I need to chase after the truths of Jesus and live them every day. These 3 lessons are a commitment to making that a reality.
Something to think about,