“But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.” (Gal. 1:15-17)
Paul’s comment that he was set apart and called to his apostleship sounds a lot like Jeremiah’s account of his own calling to be a prophet. Jeremiah is quoting God, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)
Paul’s statement is subject to various interpretations which are beyond the scope of this writing but one thing is certain, Paul believes his apostleship is no accident. The other thing that is certain is that Paul is certain that the calling is a product of grace. When he considers what he was doing previously he understands, as we all should, that only grace could change him.
Paul saw the risen Christ on the road to Damascus thus meeting one of the qualifications of being an apostle. He was also singled out by Jesus just as the original twelve were. We do not know what went into the calling of the first twelve but it might not be a far reach to suggest that they were selected from their mother’s womb and then called by grace. None of these apostles seem to have any great qualifications going for them, but God has demonstrated over and over again that he doesn’t work outside in but inside out.
Paul mentions that he did not consult with anyone about what happened to him on the Damascus road but went into the desert alone. When he did go to Jerusalem his change in behavior and his new knowledge of the gospel could not be connected with any earthly teaching. He was appointed an apostle and then given the entire story of what Jesus did by the God who called him.
This account might make us pause and wonder what went on in our mother’s womb while we were being formed. What might God have been appointing us to do? Jeremiah was given the gift of prophecy and Paul the gift of preaching and teaching. What gift do we have? Everyone who becomes a child of God through the new birth is given a gift. There are many gifts just as there are many parts of the body. Every Christian has a function in the body, a gift given by grace.
Task for Today: You guessed it. What is your gift and are you using it? The first task is to discover your gift if you haven’t already. You can’t do that by sitting in a pew or just reading the text. If you don’t sense your gift naturally then you need to experiment so that God can show you what your gift is. The second task is to put your gift of service to good use. Again, attending church services and contributing to the treasury is not a gift of service. Find your gift and get busy.