Then he (Paul) came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So, the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily. (Acts 16: 1-5)
Introduction: As a Christian who wishes to fulfill a purpose, there are many things that are not compulsory that you must do and there are many things you must avoid even though others do them so that your purpose can be preserved and accomplished. If you don’t have rules for your life based on your purpose, you may never fulfill it. Moreover, some people may never accept your assignment because some of your actions or inactions are perceived as wrong.
In Acts chapter 16: 1-5 as written above, Timothy had become a good Christian who had good testimonies among people but because his dad was not a Jew, his background posed as a hindrance in preaching the gospel to the Jews. Paul being a Jew understood the limitation he and Timothy would face if he tried to take him along for preaching engagements since the Jews would consider both of them as unclean. Paul was highly interested in taking Timothy along for his assignment of preaching; therefore, Timothy had to be circumcised though it was not compulsory according to the Bible.
Many lawful things are not helpful
In 1 Cor 10:23, the bible says ‘All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Can you imagine how painful circumcision would be for an adult? Yet, Timothy went through it just because of his purpose. What are the legitimate things you are leaving behind just because of ministry? Is it as painful as circumcision? God is noting those things and he will surely reward you.
Timothy could have refused and proved from the Bible that the circumcision was not necessary but he followed the instruction of the leader (his spiritual father) and he succeeded in ministry. Who is your God-given leader? What are his or her beliefs or instructions based on the word of God? How many of them do you obey like Timothy obeyed Paul? Remember 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 is a part of the word of God and Christians are supposed to sacrifice certain things they would have loved to do or do things they might not have loved just for the sake of the gospel.
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Paul and Timothy preached to the Jews and gentiles without making circumcision compulsory for anyone but Timothy went through the painful circumcision just to have access to the Jews and win them to Christ. He had to do it to be able to fit into the higher calling of preaching alongside the great Apostle Paul. Your life mission should determine the standards set for yourself.
If more Christians understand this principle, there will be less questions and quarrelling over mode of dressing, covering of hair, beautification and other things that cause controversies in the church. Who are the people you are sent to reach? What are the things necessary to add or remove from your life without offending God? Learn to set rules for your life so that you can achieve your purpose. Examples of such rules include manner of speaking, dressing, level of education, type of vocation, choice of friends, life partner and others. When I received a call to be a minister of the gospel several years ago, I decided never to wear certain kinds of dresses that were not acceptable to an average Christian or always causing controversies and questions. Sticking to those rules have made me acceptable, hence allowed me to preach the gospel in different kinds of churches.
My brother/sister, learn to engage continuously in actions that will make your purpose accepted or fulfilled no matter how painful or tedious the actions are. I decided to study Medicine (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) despite prior knowledge of the tedious work in medical school because I perceived that it would be an opportunity to present the gospel to people. I thank God for several opportunities to win souls to God’s kingdom in the process of speaking or consulting as a doctor and I believe the rewards for those souls in heaven are not comparable to the efforts.
If you have perceived that you have an international word, music or drama ministry, you cannot afford to make jest of people who try to speak English with good diction; in fact, you should not just learn to speak right, you should also learn to behave correctly in different circumstances.
Choice of life partner seems to be the most important factor because he/she cannot be changed and hence can make or mar the purpose. Determine to marry only the person that God directs you to marry. Unbelievers do not qualify; and even among those who are born again, many will only ruin your purpose because they are not going in your direction. Let God lead you to His choice and make sure the person you perceive as his choice is actually going in the direction of your purpose. As a young girl, I wished to marry a man who is very handsome and romantic but the most promising of the men who proposed to me did not fit into my definitions of being handsome and romantic. Since I was determined to obey God’s voice and choose only someone going in the direction of my purpose, after praying and confirming, I went ahead to say ‘Yes’ to his proposal despite the childish wishes. Now that I am matured, I know that my husband is handsome and loving and we are fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives.
If you are already married, do your best prayerfully to ensure that your marriage succeeds because marital failure can still occur even though one has chosen the best life partner. There are several things one must learn and practice to make the marriage succeed. Many times, when I’m tempted to misbehave as a wife, I remember that if the marriage doesn’t succeed, my ministry cannot be fulfilled and that cautions me to align with God’s words to submit to my husband no matter how painful it is.
Conclusion: One can get derailed or become unfulfilled because of actions that do not correlate with one’s purpose. Determine to always weigh your actions in view of your purpose. May you never lose your God-given purpose because of wrong actions in Jesus name.