God perfectly prepares His people to do His work. Nowhere in the Bible is that more evident than in the life of the Apostle Paul. The Lord took every piece of Paul’s life, and He shaped and utilized them to make Paul into one of the most effective missionaries, preachers, church-planters and witnesses of all time.
Ways God Equipped Paul
Paul was born and raised in Tarsus, a vibrant city with lots of Greek influences. He knew the Greek language and studied Greek philosophy and literature. After believing in Jesus, his familiarity with Greek culture helped him – God’s chosen apostle to the Gentiles – to relate to non-Jews and bring them to Christ.
Paul was a Jew through and through, as none of his ancestors had ever intermingled with Gentiles. He studied Jewish Law under one of the very best teachers of the day and became a zealous Pharisee who knew the Law of Moses like the back of his hand.
After his conversion, the first place Paul would stop in a new town was the local synagogue to preach about Jesus to his fellow Jews; his teachings were effective due to his deep knowledge of the Law. Paul was able to relate to both Gentiles and Jews in a meaningful way, and to help bring the two together in the early Church.
Paul was born a Roman citizen, which provided him a passport throughout the region, as well as protection and standing during his missionary journeys.
Paul was a man with a bold personality. This characteristic shines through in his writings and enabled him to share true wisdom with others. He also possessed several Greek traits from growing up in Tarsus, such as adaptability and alertness, which served him well during his travels.
How God Equips Us
The Lord made our physical bodies, formed our personality, gave us our intellectual capacity and caused us to be born in the place, at the time and to the family He ordained.
God has molded us through trials, and because of our faith in Him, He has redeemed us and indwells in us. He wants to take all these pieces of us and, over the course of our lifetime, put them together to form the most beautiful and intricate puzzle imaginable.
Where we as believers often err is spending our time over-analyzing our past and our personality in an effort to figure out what God has in store for us. What we are actually doing is creating our own plans that make sense to our earthly minds.
We also err by dwelling in discouragement over the parts of us that we believe don’t fit and aren’t good enough for God. When we live by insecurity, we don’t appreciate God’s Hand in making us who we are, and we don’t understand His grace, power and sovereignty. We limit His ability to be strong within us and use us to show Himself to the world.
Paul had reason to feel unworthy before God (as we all do!). His past included persecuting believers, and his life after conversion included a constant struggle with a thorn in his flesh. However, instead of dwelling on his weaknesses, his faith in God’s redemptive work on the Cross enabled him to focus on Jesus and to live according to His grace and power; in doing so, Christ has been glorified through Paul’s life for almost 2,000 years.
Even though we don’t know the complete picture God is putting together in our lives, He knows what He is making us to be and how He will use us for His glory.
With the Holy Spirit living inside us, we must consciously and continually follow God step-by-step every single day and have faith that He is working for our good and for His glory.