Saying goodbye can be really hard. We find Paul today journeying towards Jerusalem and on
the way he has stopped to say goodbye to the church leaders of Ephesus. In a lot of ways Luke
wrote the end of acts as a parallel to Jesus' journey to Jerusalem. Both Jesus and Paul were
focused on getting there. Both were arrested by the Jews there. For both books this is the climax
of the story.
As we read Paul's words to these dear friends we'll see some encouragement for how to live a life
that makes a difference by honoring Christ and loving others in the power that He provides.
I. Live Dangerously – verses 22-24
How many things have you said "no" to because you were afraid?
When we learn to overcome fear, worry, doubt, and insecurity we can do that. People who push
past those things become dangerous because they can do anything.
As Paul prepared to say goodbye to the leaders of the Church at Ephesus he said:
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to
me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are
facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the
race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news
of God’s grace."
Paul knew that danger was in store for him as he followed God's plan. His courage and trust in
God made him unstoppable. Live like that. Don't let fear, worry, or doubt hold you back. Live
dangerously and change the world around you.
That might be why hobbits inspire us the way they do. As the central characters in The Lord of
the Rings they are portrayed humble and loving, but they find the courage to face all kinds of
danger and overcome any obstacle for their friends.
II. Leave it all on the field – verses 25-27
You have probably heard those words shouted from the sidelines or spoken in a locker room at
some point. My soccer coach shouted that to us all the time as he tried to run us to death. The
idea is to give all that you have. Don't hold back, don't keep anything in reserve. Give your all.
It's easy to get used to doing enough to get by. By nature we tend to coast and if we're not
careful accept mediocre rather than striving for excellence.
Paul had this to say to his friends.
25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever
see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of
you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.
He also wrote this to the church at Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 11
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and
been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty
lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times
I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the
move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow
Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea;
and in danger from false believers.
By Paul's estimation, Christ had given His best for Paul so Paul could do no less for his Lord.
Paul's focus was on doing everything that he could to spread the gospel and expand God's
kingdom. We should too. We should live like that.
Jesus said that He would give us life to the full, an abundant life.
That life comes when we allow Him to live through us, and we give everything (we leave it all
on the field) for the calling that He has given each of us.
Don't settle for mediocre. Leave it all on the field.
Give your best at work or school
Give your best at home with your family
Give your best in service to Christ here and in this community
III. Be a Protector – verses 28-31
There are a lot of wolves in this world. Paul encouraged these leaders to be on guard against
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you
overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know
that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even
from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after
them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you
night and day with tears.
Shepherds protect their sheep. They risk harm to keep them safe. They will fight off wild beasts
in spite of the danger in order to protect the sheep who are under their care.
Paul encouraged these leaders to do the same for their church. To protect them and fight for
them in order to keep them safe.
Be a protector. Stand up for those who are in need. This world is full of wolves and it needs
more shepherds to stand in the gap.
The church that Christ died for is worth protecting. We need to stand up for what is right, to
guard against false teachers and leaders who would destroy God's family in order to develop
their own following. That's what Paul was calling on these leaders to do.
We can also see this as a principle to live by in all areas of our lives. We should use whatever
strength God has given us to defend and protect others.
IV. Work Hard & Be Generous – verses 33-35
Paul's final challenge to the church leaders from Ephesus was that they work hard and be
33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands
of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I
showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the
Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
So many problems would correct themselves if we worked hard and then shared what we have
with others. For some reason working hard is sometimes looked down on in our culture. We see
greater value in people who make a lot of money for playing a game, or acting out a part for the
camera than we do the man or woman who works hard with their hands and gets little
compensation for it.
Paul worked hard and then used what he gained from that to be a blessing to others. That's what
our team did yesterday. They worked hard to put on a fundraiser in order to bless others, and
then also used it as an opportunity to minister to people right here and now.
Paul quoted Jesus as saying, "it's more blessed to give than to receive." Living a life of
generosity will transform the relationships that you have.
Give more than you take in your relationship with your spouse.
Give more than you take at work
Give more than you take in your relationship with your parents.
Be a giver, love others through being generous with your words, your time, and your stuff and
you will transform your life and the lives of those around you.
This is a picture of what a follower of Christ should look like. Who is Jesus to you?
Let today be the day you come to Him, or come back to Him.