“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24.
When Paul was in Ephesus the Spirit spoke to him to return to Jerusalem. The Spirit also told him that hardships awaited him there. Paul was obedient to the Lord and decided to return to Jerusalem no matter what the consequences were. The response of the Ephesians was to encourage him not to go. They worried for his safety and well-being. Their response reminded me of when Peter rebuked Jesus after Jesus said that He would soon be handed over. Like Peter with Jesus, the Ephesians had Paul’s interests in mind. As Peter cared deeply about Jesus, the Ephesians cared greatly about Paul and they wanted what they felt was best for him. But also like Peter, they did not have the right perspective.
The Ephesians were concerned about Paul’s comfort and well-being. However, Paul’s mind was focused on other things. Paul responded to the Ephesians stating that, “his life was worth nothing to him.” Paul was concerned about finishing the task the Lord had given him, which was to testify the Gospel of God’s grace. He knew this could only be accomplished by going to Jerusalem. Even if it meant imprisonment and death, his life was worth nothing to him. Paul’s eyes were focused on eternity. Rather than discouraging Paul from the task before him, the Ephesians should have been encouraging him to press on.
How often do we make the same mistakes Peter and the Ephesians did? We have other people’s interest in mind, yet we have the wrong perspective. Too often we are more concerned about someone being comfortable, rather than them finished the tasks the Lord has set out for them. I do not believe we are being honest if we say Western Culture has not changed the way we look at the Gospel. God does not promise us comfort. Often the Lord gives us trials to grow closer to Him. He gives us difficulties and tasks we would never ask for, but are grateful for, because it is in those times we often do the work of God’s kingdom.
When a brother and sister in Christ faces these type of hardships are you in the right frame of mind? Do we focus more on the ending of their discomfort than what the Lord is doing through it? Are we always looking for the path of least resistance when God may be calling us to the path of resistance? Let’s not focus so much on one’s discomfort and well-being, rather let’s focus on what God is calling us to do. When hardships, trials and resistance come, rather than helping each other find the quickest way out, let’s encourage one another to endure the hardships, persevere for the Lord, and finish the race God has set before us. Just as Paul did his dear brother Timothy. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5.
Run until you finish the race.
by Greg Baker