“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.” (Act 20:24)There are some things that require little effort, and yield small results. Many people content themselves to spend their days in just such trivial pursuit. Will you settle for being one of them?
F. W. Boreham wrote, “There is no intellectual stimulant so intoxicating as the formation of a noble purpose, the conception of a sudden resolve, the making of a great decision.” The truly heroic moments in life demand something far more than a casual commitment.
Such a purpose had gripped Paul’s heart and set him on an unswerving mission that would be met head on with much opposition. His dearest friends, the Ephesians implored him to reconsider his decision to go ahead – but their appeals could not mount a credible case in the face of his great faith.
“None of these things move me,” he answered.
Neither tender appeals from loving friends, nor looming threats from vicious foes would back this man down from testifying to the gospel of the grace of God. Os Guinness wrote, “The secret of man’s being is not only to live – but to live for something definite; to find the idea for which one can live…and die.”
Paul knew this firsthand, and standing on the shores of the Aegean Sea ready to sail for Jerusalem, he looked forward in faith to a bad stretch of road – knowing God’s grace was sufficient for it all.
If you’ve been at it for any appreciable length of time then you know by now that this journey with Jesus is no cake walk.
It is not a stroll through the park on a blissful Sunday afternoon. No. The path has many turns – up turns and down turns, ditches on both sides, potholes aplenty, and mounds of debris inconveniently strewn all about. There are setbacks that stall you, and obstacles that intimidate you.
There are bystanders that deride you, backsliders that dismay you, and backstabbers that dishearten you. There are days when you walk with a company of passionate pilgrims who buoy your spirit with renewed aspiration; and then there are the days when you walk the lonesome valley all by yourself. Alone. Sitting in the dark. Eating dog food.
But God’s grace is sufficient.
Paul illustrates for us today the four distinguishing traits of a triumphant faith.
* First, there is conviction of spirit – “I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem.”
* Second, there is composure of mind – “none of these things move me.”
* Third, there is commitment of heart – “neither count I my life dear unto myself.”
* And, fourth, there is constancy of purpose – “so that I might finish my course with joy.”
Paul was an immovable man; unflinching and full of courage. It was he who said, “be not weary in well doing: in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” It was Paul who constantly cheered others on their journey – “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Co.15:58).
And it is Paul who by his own example inspires us today to “testify the gospel of the grace of God.”