When [the elders of the Ephesian church] arrived [Paul] declared, "You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now I have done the Lord's work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike — the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.
"And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don't know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus — the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
"And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it's not my fault, for I didn't shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know."
— Acts 20:18-27 NLT
As Paul reminds the Ephesian elders about his ministry with them, he is giving us a good list of the traits of authentic ministry:
- Humbly doing the Lord's work.
- Willingness to display emotion and love for those one serves.
- Faithfulness in the face of adversity, opposition, and persecution.
- Doing ministry both publicly and privately as circumstances and opportunities warrant.
- Consistently teaching the full message of Christ to all who will listen.
- Calling people to turn from sin and commit to living for Jesus.
- Giving the highest priority to one's mission given by God.
- Commitment never to stop life's mission of sharing the Good News about God's wonderful grace.
I don't know about you, but that list is a challenge worth my life!
O, Father, forgive me when I lose sight of my goal as your child. Convict me and reawaken me to the high purpose you have for my life. I want to live with purpose, mission, and meaning. Stir my passions and teach me how to fulfill your mission for me. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.