Today, we will read the concluding portion of Paul’s parting remarks to the leaders of the church in Ephesus.
“I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship.
– Acts 20:33-38 (emphasis added)
I don’t understand how any human being can read Paul’s message to the church leaders of Ephesus thoughtfully and not take them seriously.
Paul and his fellow apostles laid down their lives for us. They lived out Jesus’ words: “It is more blessed to give than receive.”
Not only did Paul and his co-workers risk life and limb to preach the message of Jesus, they worked hard so as not to be a financial burden on any of their hearers. Although worldly leaders would see Paul and his fellow apostles as weak, they saw themselves as strong – and determined to help those weaker than themselves.
Paul had spent three years teaching the Ephesian believers. They knew firsthand his love and his commitment to their well-being. This is why they were so emotional as he prepared to leave them to move on to other cities.
In all the apostles, we find a replication of the life of Jesus. As He came and laid down His life first for the apostles, so they went and laid down their lives for others. As Jesus endured physical danger and death itself, so they risked physical danger and death itself. Jesus of Nazareth was truly the branch that bore fruit, for the apostles were the first fruits of harvest from the seed that was Jesus Christ.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, as we appreciate the soldiers who risk life and limb to defend our country, so we should even more so appreciate the apostles who risked life and limb to tell us about You….(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)