Have you ever had to say goodbye to someone, knowing certain that you will never see them again? Did you choose your words carefully or just hug hard and walk away? Did they speak words that impacted your life deeply?
The Apostle Paul did.
In Acts 20, Paul knew as he travelled from Antioch to Jerusalem that this would be his last encounter with the leaders he’d discipled throughout Asia. As Paul journeyed through each city, he had communion with them, preaching and exhorting as he strengthened those whom he deeply loved. Finally, Paul stopped in the port city of Miletus, gathered his leaders and gave his final farewell.
Paul released the leaders “to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Then Paul emphasized how he provided through his tent-making trade all the necessities of himself and those who were with him, saying,” I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35).
Paul’s last words to the Church: You must support the weak.
In a world that celebrates survival of the fittest with popular reality shows like Big Brother, Survivor and the Amazing Race, how can Paul’s words be true today?
Here in North America, do we enshrine living for ourselves or living for others? Where is the Christian mindset?
Jesus said, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
The gospel is not a new club to join, like Toastmasters or CAA. It’s an invitation by God to the grace of an Extreme Makeover, shouting, “Hey there, anyone broken and selfish and destined for death, come see what Jesus has done for you and live!”
When Christ’s love invades our lives, the Holy Spirit rolls up His sleeves, delighting as a master makeover artist in transforming us selfish orphans into giving children of God. Unlike before and after magazine makeovers, the beauty is more than skin deep. Sanctification is a makeover from the inside out. As we walk in love as Christ loved us, our beauty becomes extraordinary as we live empowered by the grace of a heavenly Father who blesses us continually.
So what if, like all of us, you are still selfish? Is the gospel not working? Has God quit the makeover as promised?
Paul, sitting in chains in Rome, knowing this certainty when he headed to Jerusalem, wrote to Philippi and answered that very question:
He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6)
Oh the comfort of that phrase for every one of us, a work in progress! God will complete this good work He started.
So look at the standard Paul set for us all: You must support the weak.
Who are the weak around you? Maybe it’s your young children who need your time and care? Is it an elderly senior who needs kindness and support as she battles aging and illness? Have you seen the pastor who need encouragement when so many criticize? Do you know a teen who needs a friend to cheer them on? Does your boss who needs an employee who works consistently and with excellence?
Who are the weak among you that God has placed in your path to love as Jesus loved you?
Love them with everything you have and just watch the beauty that explodes out of your life as God gets all the glory. And remember to enjoy the journey to His heart. It’s such a marvelous adventure.