As you read each post in this series,
I hope you’ll think with gratitude about those who have influenced you, and
I hope you’ll ponder your investment in the lives of others.
If I were to be completely accurate in describing the influences on my life, first would be God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ, working through His Holy Spirit. By comparison, no one else would be worth mentioning. But I have chosen to limit myself to extra-biblical influences…with one exception.
In the realm of human influencers, I just can’t skip the Apostle Paul. I’ve read Acts and his letters many times, and beyond the divine wisdom God has spoken through him, I have been moved and shaped by Paul’s living example.
No matter what challenges or hardships came at him—and there were many—he seemed to maintain perspective. He kept his eye on the ball. He locked his focus on what was important. He never seemed to be knocked off balance.
How vital that is in my life and work as well! Circumstances seem to make me either discouraged or complacent, faithless or overly confident. My view of important issues is too often tainted by self-centeredness.
Father, give me the mind of Christ as You faithfully gave it to Paul.
Several times Paul uses the word haplotas. Its root meaning seems to be “simplicity”, but it takes on different shades of meaning, depending on the context. In reference to giving, it is often translated as “generosity” (Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 9:11, 13). In 2 Corinthians 11:3, it describes an engaged woman’s love for her fiancé—the kind of love we are to have for Christ. In Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22, it refers to the way Christian slaves should serve their earthly masters, with “sincerity” of heart.
To me, the translation that fits all these contexts is “singlemindedness”. We should give and love and serve with singlemindedness.
That’s the sense I get about all Paul’s service to Christ and the gospel. He lived and loved and served with singleness of mind.
Father, that’s the kind of service You and the gospel deserve from me.
Paul was passionate about Jesus Christ.
I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him. (Philippians 3:8-9, NASB)
His passion is contagious. His words about preaching beautifully describe my own call to write hymns:
If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel…I have a stewardship entrusted to me. (1 Corinthians 9:16-17, NASB)
Father, continue to fan in me the flames of faith and love and singleminded passion for Your glory. May they burn in my heart as they burned in Your servant Paul.