In this scripture from the letter to the Romans Paul declares that his apostleship is to call people from among all the Gentiles. He was an apostle to the Gentiles not to the Jews. His effectiveness in spreading the gospel depended on him staying in that specific anointing.
Time and time again he would go to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. The last chapter in the book of Acts Paul called for the Jews in Rome to come to his home. He presented the gospel to them trying to persuade them about Jesus. Some were convinced, others were not and they disagreed among themselves. This led Paul to quote Isaiah 6:9, 10 to them about their callused hearts and inability to hear. He finishes by saying that “God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!" (Acts 28:28)
Paul’s fruitfulness in ministry corresponded to his call and his obedience to it. In his letter to the Galatians he states in chapter 2 from verse 7 to 9: “On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews”. There was a recognizable grace upon Paul to minister to the Gentiles.
Yet in every town he went to the Jews first. I know that he plundered the proselytized or God fearing Gentiles in his visits to the synagogues. But his gospel incensed the Jews bringing great persecution against him. Whether this is right or wrong strategy by Paul it is not for us to judge. The most blatant and obvious truth is to stay in your area of anointing.
The Lord called Paul as an apostle. The Lord called James, the brother of Jesus, as an apostle. The Lord also appointed Peter an apostle. This gift as all the gifts of Ephesians 4 falls within a general category but with a specific designation for each person. Paul was called to the Gentiles, James was called to the church in Jerusalem and Peter was called to the Jews. Paul and Peter were trans local and James was local.
It’s like players on a team in sports. Take football (soccer) for example. All the players on the team are football players but each one has a specific designation within which they flourish. A goalie is best playing in goal and a striker is horrible playing fullback. So it is with ministry. A pastor is not going to flourish trying to be an apostle. An evangelist is not going to flourish trying to be a pastor. Within that understanding an evangelist will not do as well if he is called to Africa trying to preach in North America.
Do you know your call? Do you know the scope of your call? Are you staying within the anointing upon you or have you stepped outside of it?
Believers are happiest when they are right in the center of their calling. It may not be as glamorous as others but it will be the most fulfilling. Jesus in the parable of the talents said one was given 5, one 2 and one 1. Each was expected to invest their talent. When their master returned he asked what they had done with their talents. The one with 5 had doubled it to 10, the one with 2 had doubled it to 4, and they both got the same commendations. The one with 1 did nothing with it but if he had, would also have received the same commendation.
Ministry is not a competition where we have a table of standings and you compete to move up the table to finish first. If we are faithful to our calling within its scope we all finish first in God’s eyes.
(image courtesy of Paul Gooddy/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)