Courageous, Selfless Ministry by the Grace of God
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. (Act_20:24)
Paul was given ministry by the grace of God. “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me” (Eph_3:7). To put it another way, he received his ministry from the Lord: “the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus.” Paul’s bountiful ministry was developed by the grace of God. “I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1Co_15:10). Also, his ministry was to declare God’s grace: “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul’s life demonstrates that such “grace saturated” service leads to courageous, selfless ministry.
Paul’s ministry was courageous. “But none of these things move me.” The things that Paul faced were formidable. “The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me” (Act_20:23). Down through the centuries, matters less substantial than these have moved many a professing Christian from completing his calling. Yet, by leaning upon the sustaining grace of God, Paul courageously endured great hardship and danger in the service of the gospel of grace. “But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings” (2Co_6:4-5).
Related to this courageous service was Paul’s selflessness: “nor do I count my life dear to myself.” Soon, he would encounter another sober warning. It was given from a prophet of the Lord, who took Paul’s belt and bound his own hands and feet. “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles” (Act_21:11). Those standing by, who loved Paul deeply, urged him not to proceed. Nevertheless, Paul confessed his willingness to even lose his life for the gospel, if necessary. “Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus’ ” (Act_21:13). Such renouncing of self allowed Paul to “finish [his] race with joy.” Thus his final testimony would become, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2Ti_4:7).
Jesus, my Lord and Master, You know the things that threaten to move me away from Your calling for me. You know the times I am tempted to hold my life dear, wanting to shrink back in a self-serving manner. Please saturate my life with Your grace that I might serve courageously and selflessly, Amen.