Summary: Every life needs to be like Paul’s life, which was driven by purpose. Paul gives us the what and the how of purposeful life.
A Life with Purpose
* When I was a kid, watching WW2 movies and TV shows was a big thing. One of the things I remember is hearing a guard raise his gun and say, “State your purpose.” Whether someone gained entry or not, depending on them having a stated purpose which was consistent with admission to the building, camp, or headquarters.
* In this same way, Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and clearly stated His purpose. In 1 Corinthians 9 he writes, “I have become all things to all people that I by all means might save some.” I mention this statement because the ink was not dry on the parchment for the letter to Corinthians (to whom he wrote those word) when he continued that thought to the Romans here.
* What kept Paul passionate about the work of the gospel was a singular focus about his life. Did you realize that the reason we can become listless and apathetic about the things of God is that we have too many focuses of our life? Jesus says, “No one can serve two Masters.” James says, “A double minded person is unstable in all his ways.” God says, “You are to have no other gods but me.” Why is this? Because a divided mind, heart, and soul, is like a divided army; which can easily be distracted and defeated.
* Paul lived a life of purpose and through his writings he is encouraging US to do the same. So how do we do this? How do we live a life with purpose? I’ll suggest Paul modeled this life by doing 2 things which we must do;
1. Understanding the Priority – Paul understood his purpose, passion, and priority and NOTHING got in the way. He knew his purpose, understood his purpose, and he lived out his purpose. He did this while the personal side of his life took the back seat. When choices came his way, he sifted his choices through the filter of what mattered most in his life. Four issues which concerned him and controlled his life;
a. The Commitment to Ministry – Paul writes that “my aim is to evangelize where Christ has not been named” and goes on to say “that is why I have been prevented from coming to you.” His commitment to God’s and the work of the Kingdom had total control of his life. When I think of Paul’s life I am reminded of Charlotte Digges Moon, we all know her as “Lottie.” For 43 years she was so committed to China, God’s purpose for her life, that she ignored her own needs, family, and health. Quite likely, she wanted to take care of herself, but felt that God’s call was more important than life itself. Or how about Annie Armstrong. Although people said Annie loved God with all her heart, they would be quick to assert that it was her hands which made such a difference for her. She was busy about God’s work.
* Think about God’s call on your life, that is, your purpose and make a personal determination before God as to where it is on the priority list of your life. A life with purpose is a life committed to God’s call & ministry.
b. The Completion of Ministry - A real commitment to anything is a conscious decision to see it through to completion. Paul says in verse 23, “I no longer have any work to do in this region, area, or provinces.” Did that mean that everyone was saved or that everyone had been presented the gospel? No, what it meant was Paul had completed the ministry that God had appointed him to do in those areas. Honestly, the seed of the gospel had been planted, the work of the Kingdom was healthy, and the believers had been discipled and were assuming the responsibility for Paul so that his ministry could be continued. Did you realize that the call of God to every believer is to “duplicate yourself”. The work of the church and Kingdom is to bring people into the Kingdom through salvation in Christ, train them up in their faith (this is discipleship), and then turn them loose to do ministry. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples” and with these words, the purpose, goal, and aim, for the church, the believer, and the Kingdom was set in stone. Candidly, all ministries (both church and individual) are judged based on these words, “Make Disciples!”
* When two people marry, the words they repeat are what “until someone better comes along”, “until the feeling is gone”, or “until I’m tired of you”? Actually, we say “until death” meaning we are committing to stick it out until the end. This is exactly what Paul is teaching us, that we complete the ministry God has given us. Remembering His purpose for our lives gives us passion and even the motivation to persevere when the going gets tuff. There is an old gospel song which says, “Keep on the firing line.” That’s what we are called to do, complete our ministry.