But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. –Acts 20:24
My Pastor was preaching in Acts chapter 20 a few weeks ago and he read this verse as part of the message. It was not the main point, but this verse just stuck with me so I figured it needed a little investigation.
The first thought here is none of these things move me. Think about what Paul has suffered to this point in his preaching the gospel:
- He was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:8-19)
- He was beaten and imprisoned at Philippi (Acts 16:13-34)
Even just these two examples may have discouraged most but as he was planning his trip to Jerusalem he made this statement knowing there would be hard times ahead (And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. –Acts 20:22-23). Paul even learned later that he would be bound when he went to Jerusalem but he would not be persuaded to stay just for the sake of being bound:
Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. –Acts 21:13
Think about this, there are some out there that would stay home from church for a hang nail. Or one of the five kids are sick so the whole family has to stay home just to “blow the poor kids nose.”[i] I know it seems so odd to see someone so dedicated, what do you think would cause something like that? I can think of a few things:
- Paul had a salvation experience he never got over. Something happened to Paul while he was off on the road to Damascus, he met the risen Saviour and his life was never the same after that. In fact his favorite sermon was to tell people what happened to him that day!
- He needed to finish the work God gave him. (Acts 20:24) That he may finish his course with joy and the ministry I received of the Lord Jesus. Imagine if we today held that attitude! That Sunday School class of “snot-nosed kids” is the ministry you received from the Lord Jesus Himself! No more waiting to Saturday night to pull out the old quarterly and start your lesson. Sunday night you would start praying for the kids, Monday start preparing lessons and waiting with expectation on what Jesus can do in their lives next Sunday. You may even take time to visit them during the week, especially the ones who were not there last Sunday (ok, am I sounding a little too much like a Sunday School Superintendent now? Sorry, I’ll try to back off a little.) But any ministry you are involved in can be change radically for the better if we look at it as a gift from Jesus not a burden passed down from our Pastor.
- To testify of the Gospel of the Grace of God. To be a witness: To tell others of the wonderful thing Jesus has done for us that are saved.
No wonder Paul was on fire for God. We need to catch his vision for his life and apply it to ours before it is too late to make a difference in the lives of others. People are dying and passing into eternity without Jesus while we play church. (Where [there is] no vision, the people perish. – Proverbs 29:18a) We need to stop playing and start doing what God has called us to do.
[i] From the song “Excuses” by the Kingsmen http://www.songlyrics.com/song-lyrics/Kingsmen/Through_The_Years_With_The_Kingmen/Excuses/250064.html