A Good Goodbye
Day: 22 | Plan: Acts
Today's Reading: Acts 20
Acts 20:24 (NIV) “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.”
How do you say “goodbye” to someone you know you’ll likely never see again. Difficult, right? Personally, I can’t imagine how to begin that last conversation, but I’d want to do it well.
In Acts 20, Paul has left Ephesus to minister in Macedonia; from there he decides to travel to Jerusalem. He is anxious to arrive in Jerusalem before Pentecost, so he decides not to stop back in Ephesus during this leg of his trip. But while waiting in Miletus to board his next ship, he invites the elders of the church in Ephesus to come to him so he can give them some final words.
Paul begins his farewell by reminding them that he never held back any teaching that would benefit them. He taught them with humility in the intimate setting of house churches. He did all this despite intense persecution and plots by the Jewish leaders to kill him.
Clearly Paul has been committed to the gospel. He never shrank back in fear; he didn’t alter his message. His passion was the gospel and their good. His time in Ephesus would have prepared him for what the Spirit tells him is waiting in Jerusalem. Paul says the Holy Spirit is sending him to Jerusalem where he will likely face hardships, imprisonment and possibly death.
And, now Paul sums up his ministry and life poignantly.
Paul says life is worth nothing to him. He isn’t being verbose, or employing hyperbole. This is his story. This is his song. Paul has truly spent his life after his conversion giving nearly everything he has for the task that Jesus Christ personally gave him. And Paul will use a familiar metaphor saying he wants to finish his race proclaiming the gospel of grace.
Paul will close his good goodbye with encouragement for them to shepherd the believers, protect them from false teachers and guard the truth. His final exhortation is to follow his example in following Christ’s example. He closes with a tearful, tender prayer.
So how do we say a good goodbye? By living a good, gospel-centered life. Our lives preach our own funerals. Paul reminded them of the quality of his service, the authenticity of his message and the pattern of his ministry. Paul could finish well because he lived well.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, it’s never easy to think about the final words I will one day say to those I love. May I live with the settled peace that my life is in Your hands. When that time comes I want to know I spent today living for You. If I’m going to finish well, then I must run well today. A gospel-centered life builds a gospel-centered legacy. In Jesus’ name, amen.
In Acts 20, Paul miraculously raises Eutychus from the dead. The young man was listening to Paul... Read More
Download the First 5 app to get the full experience