At first I found myself in awe of the apostle Paul
as he said, “I urge you to imitate me” (1 Corinthians 4:16).
But I have to admit . . . later, I began to feel frustrated with him.
I mean, after all, Paul wasn’t perfect.
After his conversion, he determined to the “the great voice”
to the Jews. But they hated him. And almost every time they
heard him preach, they tried to kill him. The disciples had to
pack Paul in a basket and lower him by ropes over the city wall
at midnight just to keep him safe.
But Paul kept preaching to the Jews.
And he kept getting death threats.
And being persecuted.
And causing all kinds of division.
Finally, the disciples said, “Hey, Paul. We know God has called
you to preach. And that’s exciting. And we know He’ll use you.
But He’s just not using you here. I mean, can’t you see it?
It’s obvious that God has something else for you.
This isn’t working! Please leave and wait for God’s direction on
The disciples said that!
It’s kind of funny.
It was like Paul just kept banging his head against the wall:
“This SHOULD work. It CAN work. It HAS to work.
I’m the right person for this job!”
But it wasn’t working!
If Paul could have only seen into the future:
If he could have known THEN that God would use him to bring
the Gospel to the Gentiles . . . and that he would write most of
the New Testament . . . that his ministry would be talked about,
read about and preached about for centuries . . .
Maybe it would have been easier to stop what he was doing
and move on. And wait for God’s direction. For God’s open door.
For the new ministry God wanted to give him.
After leaving the disciples and spending about a decade making
tents and waiting for God’s direction, Paul finally realized his ministry was to the Gentiles. And look what God did through Him!
Two things stand out to me:
- Paul wasn’t perfect. But he WAS so united with Christ, that he was able to say, “Imitate me.” God would use the Holy Spirit to seal up the cracks . . . so that when people DID watch Paul’s life, what the Holy Spirit allowed them to see was Paul’s obedient side.
- When God tries to shut down something we’re involved in, why do we often keep trying to force it to work?
Let’s ask God to:
- help us live in such intimacy with Him that we’re able to say,
“Imitate me,” because I’m copying Christ.
- give us discernment to know when to move on and trust Him
to open a new door.