In “Legacy of a Pack Rat,” Ruth Bell Graham tells of a musician who lived in a land where “God’s music” was not allowed to be played. Every day, he took out his copy of Handel’s “Messiah” and placed it on the dining room table. Then, on the table, his fingers silently played through the entire score.
“He was making music,” a friend said later, “that only God can hear.”
This kind of dedication in the face of trial and discouragement is that which should characterize the lives of Christians in every circumstance.
The apostle Paul serves as one of the best examples of godly commitment to the cause of Christ in the entire New Testament, enduring “beatings, imprisonments and riots, hard work, sleepless nights and hunger,” (2 Corinthians 6:5).
Raised in the best of Jewish educational circles, Saul, as he was known, had everything going his way. Then, out of the blue, he was struck blind in an experience with Jesus of Nazareth that would affect him forever. The revelation given him on that first century road, and the subsequent things God had to say to him, provided the driving force for the rest of his life. It is safe to say that Paul measured every action, every thought, by the will of God. In his own words, he sought to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Pauls motive in saying such things about himself and his fellow workers was not to commend himself. He was perfectly willing for his life to speak for itself. (Note 2 Corinthians 3:1–5.) But he wanted others to see God's power in him and thus allow him to be a source of encouragement to those who wanted to live similar lives of commitment. He boldly challenges, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Study Paul's life. Look deeply into the lives of other “heroes of faith” in Scripture, men and women who gave their lives for the cause to which God had called them. We also have been called by the Lord to a life of purpose and dedication, to commit everything we have to him.
Most people, including many Christians, find it difficult to reach for that higher level of discipleship. Some refuse to do it because of the demands placed on their lifestyles. This is why Paul wrote as he did to brethren he had never personally met who belonged to the church in ancient Rome.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1–2).