“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.”
(Acts 20:24 ESV)
Paul was on his way to Jerusalem. And it had been made clear to him, by the Spirit of God, what was to happen to him there. He knew that afflictions and imprisonment awaited him.
However, in spite of this, Paul made the statement we see above. He says that he does not account his life of any value. He doesn’t count it as precious to himself. His only desire is that he might finish his course and the ministry entrusted to him by the Lord.
Paul, you remember, had been called by Jesus to take the gospel primarily to the Gentiles. And it’s clear that he was determined to carry out his call no matter what it meant for him personally. He was willing to endure all things if only he might faithfully share Christ with the lost.
He had already done so on several occasions. He’d endured beatings. He’d been jailed. Yet, no matter what he faced, he pressed on.
When I look at Paul’s words, it forces me to look at my own heart. It causes me to ask if the same is true of me. Am I willing to endure suffering and imprisonment if only I may finish the course, if only I may fulfill the calling, God has given me?
No matter how faithful we are in our ministry, the fact remains that we have a natural tendency to look out for our well-being. We have an ingrained desire to preserve our life in this world. And, more often than not, we will do anything we can to do just that.
If preserving our life means compromising our values, we do it. If preserving our life means putting on a façade, we do it. Even if we’re uncomfortable making these choices, we count our life too valuable to discard.
This is true when it comes to our faith and our ministry as well. We know what Christ has done for us. And we know that we’ve been called to share this truth with all mankind. Yet, if this means putting ourselves at risk, we’re often unwilling to take that step.
We’re often unwilling to take that step even if our life isn’t physically threatened in any way. We’re often unwilling to fulfill our calling if it means our reputation among men might be tarnished. We’re unwilling to fulfill our calling if it means that others might think us foolish.
This is an area where I’ve struggled as long as I can remember. Growth has come, but it has come slowly. Even though I preach and teach the Word of God regularly in the church, I’m not as quick to do so on the outside.
I pray that the Lord will give me the Spirit of Paul. I pray that he will enable me to fulfill my calling no matter what it might mean for myself personally. I pray that I might be able to say, along with Paul, that I do not count my life of any value or as precious in itself. I pray that my only concern will be carrying out the mission to which I’ve been called.
This is my prayer also for the people of the church. I pray that the Lord will give to each of us this mindset. And, as he does so, I pray that more and more people will hear the good news and receive the salvation that is given through faith in Jesus.