Bible Reading: Acts 20:17-38
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)
If you want an example of a full life lived out for God and with God, look at Paul’s life. Though his toil was hard and often seasoned with persecution, his life was full of passion, joy, zeal and livelihood. He lived a life in a very close relationship with God, and each of His steps was closely led by the Spirit.
Nearing the end of Paul’s ministry, Paul was called by the Spirit to journey to Jerusalem for Pentecost. However, this time, it was going to be different. Imprisonment and affliction awaited him, and he knew that. Paul very well knew that this could mean his end. And so, with that in mind, he went to visit the Ephesian elders for the very last time in his life because Paul knew he would not come back to all the church plants he had started.
Paul makes final words for the elders, charging them to look after the flock. Paul passes the baton of shepherding to the next in line. He charges them to be faithful to the Word of God and God because from there, there is spiritual sanctification. As you can imagine, the emotions were up high. The Ephesian leaders loved Paul dearly because he founded their church and ministered each of them to faith. Yet, this was their last.
Despite the sorrow, Paul had resolved in his heart for a more significant cause. If it was time for him to face persecution and death, Paul was ready to finish his course. He knew that there were still people along the way who needed to hear his testimony. These people were those who would persecute him in Jerusalem, all the way to the Ceasar. Paul knew his life had one purpose; “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
What grace moves such a man? Who is this God that Paul knew?
It was the true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who manifest Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. It was the gracious God who appeared to him personally on the road to Damascus. It was the God who loved him and paid for his sins while he was still a stubborn pharisee. It was the God who called him to ministry among the Gentiles and be one of the founding fathers of the early church though previously he was a persecutor of the early church. It was the God that loved and abounded in grace to “save sinners, of whom [Paul] was the foremost” (1 Tim 1:15).
Paul deeply knew this love and grace. He knew it was far too profound and far too great. He knew he was totally undeserving, and Paul knew the tremendous privilege he had received. This was a personal God whom Paul knew. He knew God intimately and personally because of God’s grace that abounded for him. As Paul was bound and arrested in Jerusalem, Acts 23:11 notes how “the following night, the Lord stood by [Paul] and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
Have you personally experienced God for yourself? Can you recount the overflowing graces and mercy of God to your life personally? Christianity is more than just theory or head knowledge about God. It is about growing in this intimate relationship with the God of grace who wants to relate with us.
If we have experienced God’s abounding grace, do we have the same resolve as Paul? Do we set our eyes to one thing alone in this life; to testify the gospel or good news of the grace of God? This means we ought to surrender all that would hinder the message of God’s grace, and we ought to take on everything that would benefit it. Let’s learn from Paul to resolve our whole lives to Christ.
Lord, You are the gracious and merciful God. Why You love me, I do not know. Praise be to You for who You are. Forgive me; I have forgotten Your grace. Forgive me because my life does not align with the response I should have to Your grace. Thank You for Your Word today and Your steadfast love that still wants to pull me back today. Please help me to love You. Give me a spiritual revival and a stronger resolve to live for You and with You alone. Make me dead to sin every day and make me alive to Your ways. Thank You, God. In Jesus’ name, amen.