But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles… Galatians 1:15 — 16
The Apostle Paul knew that it was God who set him apart before he was born and also revealed Christ to him – he (or anyone for that matter) would have never arrived at this truth of his own accord or intelligence. This was a fact unambiguously communicated to Peter by the Lord Himself in Matthew 16:17 – And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
However Paul also understood very well that God’s grace toward him in revealing Christ was not limited to the purpose of salvation alone but in order that he may serve God’s purpose for his life also. Similarly, we too like Paul, were set apart by God before we were born (Eph 1:4) and called by His grace (Eph 2:8). But not so that we would only be saved but so that we would serve His purpose with our lives too.
In 1 Corinthians 15:10 Paul in fact testifies to the fact that God’s grace toward Him was not in vain because he worked harder and laboured further than all other apostles to fulfil God’s purpose in his life. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Paul exerted himself. He matched the grace God extended to him by working even harder than the rest in order to achieve God’s purposes for his life.
God’s purpose for our lives does not happen just like that without effort and commitment, investment and submission.
Paul was also single minded in his pursuit of the successful accomplishment of God’s purpose in his life – Acts 20:24
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. The value of his life to him was in his accomplishing God’s purpose with it and nothing more. It was for this reason that Paul was sold out for God’s purpose in his life. He could not find any greater value for his own life than to accomplish God’s purpose with it.
There is nothing of greater value that we can achieve with our lives than God’s purpose for it. There is no higher purpose that we could ever serve with our lives than God’s.
In fact, for the Apostle Paul, because the salvation element was done and dusted, already wrapped up, his entire life focus and attention was on accomplishing God’s purpose for his life. This was his life’s desire and constant driving force. He expressed what it was that drove his life and actions to King Agrippa en route to His trial in Rome like this – “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,” Acts 26:19
It was his steely determination to remain obedient to the vision from heaven, no matter what, that drove Paul’s life and ministry so much so that even on his journey to Rome to his own trial, he was fulfilling God’s purpose as he preached Christ. It was eventually God’s purpose for his life that cost him his life.
God’s purpose for our lives is not and has never been without cost. We must be ready to pay it – with our very lives.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
The Lord Jesus directed His warning not at a select few but to all who would follow Him. This is the call that we all need to heed very well and respond to. For if not, “…what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” Mar 8:36 — 37
God’s purpose for our lives requires effort and commitment. We need to be all in and surrendered, intentional and single minded in our pursuit and successful accomplishment of it in our lives.
There is no higher purpose than God’s that we could ever accomplish with our lives.