Acts 20:24.

January 19, 2008

But (even though I do not know what will happen to me, even though all I know is that the Spirit says that imprisonment & unnamed afflictions await me in every city)

I (the Apostle Paul, undeservedly loved & saved to the uttermost by the Christ I once hated & persecuted)

do not account (or reckon or calculate)

my life (my very breath, the natural life of my body)

of any value nor as precious to myself (neither costly nor dear, of no sum, rubbish)

if only (this one thing: the driving passion & purpose of my life)

I may finish my course (this race marked out for me, this course run in obedience to Christ)

& the ministry (a task weightier than my very life)

that I received from the Lord (my Authority — my Master, Owner, & King)

Jesus (the crucified & risen Son of God)

to testify (to bear witness with all my heart)

to the gospel (the good news)

of the grace of God (God’s lovingkindness extended to ruined sinners through salvation & adoption)

. . .

This verse has been such a source of comfort, reminding, & rebuking to me over the years.

I listened to a message from the 2003 Shepherd’s Conference by Steve Saint (son of Nate Saint, missionary to the Waodani) again today. I’ve listened to it about 4 or 5 times already, but I still choke up at the same parts. What a testimony of the sufficiency of God’s grace.

He shared about how he wrote an article for a Christian magazine some time after learning of “most of the details” of his father’s death. In the article, he wrote that God did not merely allow the death of his father & the other missionaries; God orchestrated it. He said he received objections from readers, asking, “How can you attribute to God something horrible like this?” His answer to them was from Acts 2:23: “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan & foreknowledge of God . . .” He said, “If God could, as a loving Father . . . if He could do this to His own Son, why couldn’t He do this to my father, if he was willing?”

If he was willing. He was willing. Nate Saint, the Apostle Paul, & many others. They were willing to lay down their lives — not because they were foolishly reckless, but because they counted the cost & prized something more than life: the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul said his life was valuable only inasmuch as it served to fulfill the interests of Christ — not his own interests. “For to me to live is Christ,” he says (Philippians 1:21).

He loved Christ. “Jesus Christ & Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2) was the crux of his life. Could there be any greater thing? This one message, this one mission, this one task. His own life’s significance drowned out in comparison. Self-preservation was not high on his list of priorities. The message was more important than the messenger (& if his life was as nothing, then so was everything else within that life: comfort, pleasures, riches, reputation . . .).

The gospel wasn’t only his occupation. It was his preoccupation. It consumed his life.

Paul was probably weeping as he spoke these words to the Ephesian elders. “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course & the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). He loved them dearly; it was the last time he’d see them, & more trials awaited him.

But the gospel was the heartbeat, the heartthrob of his life. Jesus had no rival in his affections. Acts 20:24 was the narrative of his life.

Single-minded, whole-hearted.

Oh, to really live like that.


6 Responses to “Acts 20:24.”

  1. garnet Says:

    the gospel as my preoccupation as well as occupation.. : ) i like that.

  2. sparrow Says:

    Would you call that “spiritual selflessness”?

  3. tia Says:

    Hi Sparrow,

    Good question — I don’t know if I’d call it exactly that. The focus, I think, isn’t so much self or selflessness but the gospel of God (link to one of my favorite gospel presentations: :]

  4. jennifer lee Says:

  5. […] personal, religion For some years now, this verse has been such a balm (in a different way than Acts 20:24 has been) to some heartache or another: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the […]

  6. […] 2, 2009 in life and death, missions About a year ago, I wrote an entry about Acts 20:24.  It’s been a verse that has anchored me again and again. But I do not account my life of […]

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