In the Acts of the Apostles we hear St. Paul speak to the Ephesian Elders: “But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace…remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “ (Acts 20:17-38).
This was a very emotional meeting for Paul and the elders of the church at Ephesus. Paul talked about how he had given them every ounce of himself to help them understand “the whole purpose of God.”
They would have to watch over themselves and oversee the church with the Holy Spirit, for they would probably not see his face again. They all prayed, and wept, and hugged, and kissed before putting Paul on the ship, for he had said that they would not see him again.
When the time comes and our face will not be seen again, will we be able to celebrate with tears and hug those to whom we have passed on the baton? That’s what this life is about. It’s not about who had the most toys, the best car, the biggest house, the most stock, the greatest acreage or any other material thing that we are all conditioned to want. It’s about how we love the Lord our God and how we share that love with each other.
Paul gave one hundred percent for God. He candidly told the elders at the meeting that he was not responsible for the blood of any of them. He had not shrunk from his duty to them. Are there those in our lives for whose blood we could be held responsible?
What about that friend or relative that we just never get around to contacting or communicating with? How about that poor family that lives a block from our church? And what about that sick and dying church member who we can’t ever find enough time to visit?
We must, “not shrink from declaring to [them] the whole purpose of God.” In spite of all the distractions of this life that take our time we must find time to, “testify…about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus.”
When our face will not be seen again and we are taken to the ship, will there be praying, and weeping, and hugging and kissing in celebration of our ministry? Truly, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”