Monday, December 10, 2007

Acts, Chapter 20

In our busy lives, it is hard for us to imagine how things can be even more hectic. In chapter 20 though we see how tireless Paul was and we can realize that things can indeed be even busier than previously thought. This chapter illustrates how tireless Paul was in preaching the gospel, a fact that many people don't truly realize. This was a man that gave every fiber of his being to spreading the word of Christ. Look at what he accomplished in doing so, because literally millions have believed because of his work. Through it all, he never took an ounce of praise for himself, as it was always directed at Christ.

Chapter 20 is also a good lesson in Paul's humility, as it is an opportunity for him to accept praise, but he once again defers to a higher authority. When he raised his friend from the dead, he could have taken praise, but instead he deferred to Christ. This incident once again stemmed from Paul tirelessly working for Christ, as he didn't even take time to sleep that night because he was so focused on preaching the message that was given to him.

18When they arrived, he said to them: "You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. 20You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. – Acts 20:18-21

Let's look at that line, "with great humility and tears," a little bit closer. I have long had a passion for the game of basketball. Whenever I am blessed with the opportunity I lose myself in the game to the point where nothing else exists outside the court. It does not matter if it is a meaningless pick-up game, I always play the same way: 100% and full speed. When I was younger it used to be worse as thoughts of the game and what my high school team was doing would consume my every waking hour from November until March. While I do not fault myself for the joy this game has given me, I have often wondered what I could have accomplished if I had focused all of this energy on Christ as Paul did. It wasn't until recently, with this very blog, that I began to totally focus part of my daily energies on Christ, and I continue to be amazed at what He accomplishes through this daily.

22"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. – Acts 20:22-24

This is an attitude shift that few of us are able to successfully accomplish. I admit in my own weakness that I struggle daily with surrendering my own will in favor of the will of Christ as Paul was able to do. I am amazed by the total focus and drive that Paul had to accomplish the task set before him. He knew what he was facing. Apparently God even told him he would be facing prison and eventually death for his faith. Still, he soldiered on for the cause. To relate to my basketball analogy above, especially since sometimes my wife says she needs to speak in basketball terms to make herself understood, I continued to play through injuries and my own lack of natural ability simply for my love of the game. Paul's love of Christ was enough to overcome all of his shortcomings and through that he was able to accomplish wonderful things. We can learn from this example by giving all of ourselves to Christ in everything we do.


  1. How would you handle facing what Paul face in prison and death for his faith?
  2. Where do you focus your energies that could be focused elsewhere?
  3. Why is Paul's humility important?

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