“Serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:19-20)
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)
“Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my (Paul) departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:26-31)
“So now brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I can relate to the Apostle Paul. He was absolutely consumed with God. God’s plans and purposes were his plans and purposes. He had completely laid everything at the feet of Jesus at his conversion on the Damascus road. He was sold out and all in. No looking back. I love that about Paul! One hundred percent commitment to the calling describes Paul’s ministry.
Paul had spent three solid years pouring the whole counsel of God into the lives of the church of Jesus Christ. Everything that God had taught him, he willingly shared with the believers everywhere he went. Hours upon hours he spent writing and teaching and interceding for the church. Somehow, he found time to go to his job as a tent maker. Yes Paul had a day job. He paid his own way. He didn’t ask for anything, even though it was perfectly allowable for him to do so.
Every single day Paul put aside his wants and desires and took on the Lord’s wants and desires. This is how he humbly served the Lord. He was faithful to put Jesus out front at all times. If you read the stories of Paul in the book of Acts, you’ll see the results of putting Jesus out front. Paul was hounded, rejected, beaten and left for dead, whipped, thrown in prison and finally beheaded for his love and faithfulness to his calling. He kept his eyes on the prize. It really did not matter one wit to him who liked him, who respected him or received his teachings and ministry. He put it out there and left the rest for God to work with.
During his last visit with the elders of this church, he prophesied about savage wolves coming in to the church and drawing away the disciples. Even among themselves men rising up to speak perverse things. How well we see that happening in this age over two thousand years later! Even though Paul knew this would happen, he did not count all the time and effort he spent building the believers up as vanity. He did not despair. He commended them all to God for safe keeping. After all, the church belongs to Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we too run into the same trials Paul suffered. We too are misunderstood and falsely accused. We are rejected by even the brethren, and our efforts are considered dung. Take a lesson from Paul. He kept his eyes on the prize. He was determined to lay all his crowns at the feet of Jesus, who is the Author and the Finisher of his faith–and ours.