In the closing chapter of First Corinthians, Paul talks about the future. He lets the church know where he and his team are going. This gives us some insight into how we should look forward.
After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you — for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
1 Corinthians 16:5-9
One of the things that I notice right away is Paul’s reliance upon knowing God’s will for his life. It’s something that we need to come to grips with, in our generation.
The apostle sought out God’s best every step of the way. So when he looked ahead, he kept that in mind. He knew what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go. But he always qualified it by saying “if the Lord permits.”
All that means is that he didn’t yet know God’s perfect will concerning that trip yet. He had faith that at some point it would become clear to him where he was to go.
It’s unfortunate that in our generation there are many believers who take no thought of what God wants them to do. They make their plans based on their own wants and desires. Then they bring these plans to God for His blessing.
We’ve fallen into the trap of planning out our lives without first seeking God’s will. That’s the very definition of godlessness. Yes, it is possible to be a godless Christian.
We need to learn to hear from God first and then set our plans according to His will. In this way, we’ll know that our path is blessed even before we ask God to bless it.
Of course, there’s another side to the issue. Just because it’s God’s will for us to do something doesn’t always mean that it’s going to be easy. God opened a door of ministry for him, but Paul acknowledged that there was going to be great opposition.
That seems to be the story of most successful ministries. A great door opened for a powerful work. While at the same time, there’s great opposition. That’s why problems are never an indicator of whether or not you’re in God’s will. You need to hear from Him before you start.
I also notice Paul providing for those under him in ministry.
If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should refuse to accept him. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
1 Corinthians 16:10-12
The thing that I see is that there’s no sense of competition. Paul never felt the need to prove he was better than anyone else.
Too often in ministry, leaders seem to think that they have to keep others down. They don’t want to see their “protégés” reaching a higher level than them. Leaders don’t want to lose their status. Personally, I think that it would be an honor to have trained someone who is doing a great work for Christ.
We need to be seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit for every aspect of our ministry. Only then will we see the results that will point to the power of God at work.
Question: How do you plan what you’ll be doing in the future?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi