Today, reading about the journeys of the Apostle Paul in Acts 20, two reflective questions came to mind.
1. If I knew that I would never see my close friends again, what would I say to them?
2. What type of impact would my life have on my community after I am gone?
Concerning the first question, in Acts 20, Paul calls the Ephesian elders for a meeting, knowing that he will probably never see them again. Paul reminds them of his work at Ephesus and the example he set for them in doing ministry. Luke records for us,
And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Acts 20:18-21 ESV)
Later, Paul continues, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35 ESV)
If I knew that today were going to be my last, would I be able to say the same things as Paul? Would I be able to say that I served the Lord with all humility or that I did not shrink from “declaring the whole counsel of God“? (v. 27) Finally, would I be able to look death straight in the face and proclaim in the presence of my friends, “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.”?(v.24)
In all this, I am reminded that my life is not my own. While I desire to have a god job, provide for my family, be a great husband and father, ultimately, my purpose in life is to give praise to God. Understanding this, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV) May I constantly be reminded of this principle, and do all that I can in the power of the Holy Spirit to give Glory to God today.
Now, concerning the second question, I must ask myself, “What type of impact would my life have on my community after I am gone?” In Acts 20, it is clear that Paul is going to be greatly missed by the Ephesian church. “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” (Acts 20:36-38 ESV) Would I be missed by my community? Would people weep at my departure? Whether or not they would is one question, but it also must be asked, “Why would I be missed?” It’s pretty clear that Paul would be missed because of his amazing service to the church and to Christ. Everyone who knew Paul knew that he was an amazing man of God. They could look at his life and his work and know that he had given his all to serve the God who had created him and saved him through Jesus Christ.
When I am gone, I don’t want to be remembered as a “good person,” “wonderful science teacher,” or even “a great family man.” It is my desire that I am remembered as a man of God. May I be remembered as someone who has loved the Father, served Christ, and lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, on my departure, I will be able to say to those around me, “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.”?