[Paul continued his talk to the Ephesian elders, saying,] "So guard yourselves and God's people. Feed and shepherd God's flock — his church, purchased with his own blood — over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders. I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you — my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you."
— Acts 20:28-31 NLT
Three areas of emphasis are important to me as Luke tells about Paul's visit with the Ephesian elders:
- The church belongs to God. It was purchased by the blood of Jesus. Each person, each individual sheep in God's flock, is known, loved, and valued by God, who wants none of his sheep to be lost.
- Leaders in God's church do not run or campaign to have their position of leadership. They may be identified as leaders by the church, but they are appointed and made qualified by the Holy Spirit.
- False teaching can arise from within the church, even from the shepherds, so we must be vigilant.
A shepherd's — pastor's or elder's — work is to love and protect people who are precious to God, not to seek prestige or elevation in status. Without all elements that Paul emphasizes, shepherds cannot be what God wants them to be. So, let's value such shepherds and give them the respect and honor they deserve as they live a life of service to God's people!
Almighty God, our tender, loving, and sacrificial shepherd, thank you for your shepherds who serve your church. Bless them. Protect them. Guide them. Empower them. And, dear Father, may we, your sheep, love and respect them as we should. I pray this and thank you, in the name of Jesus, our good shepherd. Amen.