“But none of these things move me; neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy and the Ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the Grace of God.”
It was his singular, consuming “Magnificent Obsession” in life.
“To testify of the Gospel of the Grace of God.”
If you’d forced Paul to write down in a single sentence, his goal or purpose in life, it would have been that one phrase: “To testify (Grk. ‘diamarturomai’—‘to attest to earnestly, exhort, vigorously declare, etc.’) of the Gospel of God’s Grace.”
That’s why Paul said our “rejoicing should be in Christ and we should have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). That’s why “what things that used to be important to him in life—his physical pedigree, his theological degrees, his religious zeal, etc.—were as dung or garbage in comparison to knowing Christ and the power of His Resurrection” (vv.4-10a). Hallelujah!!
As he talked to those precious saints from Miletus and Ephesus that day (v.17), he knew he’d likely never see them again (v.25). So, he knew it was important to “redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5) by “commending them to God and the Word of His Grace, which was able to build them up and give them an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
But, Paul had never been one to hold anything back.
In his life before Christ (Gal. 1:13-14). And, most assuredly, in his life after meeting Christ on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9; Phil. 3:3-14).
No, those folks knew “from the first day he’d come into Asia that he’d served the Lord with all humility of mind and with many tears and temptations that came from the hated-filled Jews’ lying in wait for him” (Acts 20:18-19). They knew he’d “kept nothing back from them that was profitable unto them as he testified both to the Jews and the Greeks (Gentiles), calling them to repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (vv.20-21).
Yet, in the midst of it all—even in the face of impending persecution and possible death—Paul still said “But none of these things move me—i.e., frighten or distress me; neither do I count my life dear unto myself so I can finish my course with joy and fulfill the Ministry which He has given unto me, which is preaching Jesus crucified and resurrected.”
Sometimes this “whole counsel of God” (v.27) is quite convicting and piercing; the Spirit’s Scalpel always is (Acts 4:12; Jn. 16:8-11). Other times it is quite comforting, reminding us of Christ’s Love and what awaited us when we finally saw Him face-to-Face (Rev. 21:4).
But, again, the “Joy in the Journey” is Jesus’ Presence and the privilege of seeing others come to know Him as Savior and then “grow in His Grace” as Lord of their lives. And, dear Pilgrim, that’s still our Mission today. Even though there’ll always be “wolves entering in from without” and “disrupting men rising up from within” (Acts 20:29-30), we should never be deterred from our Message and Mission. Help us, O Lord, to be faithful.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated August 4, 2010