February 25, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Acts 20:17-38

Note the frequent occurrence of the words “you know …” in this passage. (Also from yesterday’s passages.)  What is the significance of this?

Apostle Paul was very confident in the fact that his life was an open book.  It’s one thing to be able to say you are a certain type of person who does certain kinds of things in a certain way.  You can go on and on about who you think you are, but when you try to do it in front of people who know you, maybe family members or close friends, you have to think twice before making any unrealistic claims because they know you all too well.  So in the presence of the very people he ministered to for years, Paul is able to boldly pointing to the fact that they know his life very well and how he lived.  He’s not shy about some of the things he claimed, the fact that he served the Lord with great humility and with tears in the midst of being severely tested by the Jews.  That’s probably because it’s true.  I wonder how many of us can say this with a straight face to our roommates, spouses, friends, and co-workers.  I think that’s the model that I need to strive after; to be such a person of integrity that I can boldly proclaim along with Apostle Paul that I am “innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.”

vs.28-32 Who does Apostle Paul warn the Ephesian elders against?   Why would people in the church distort the truth?

Apostle Paul warns the Ephesian elders against savage wolves who will not spare the flock, men who distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

For people in the church to distort the truth, they would have to be really blinded by their own pride.  Maybe it’s also because they are personally ambitious and want to take over the void left behind by a leader like Paul.  There is something that they are after more important than the truth and so they go after it at the cost of distorting the truth.  It may not be an outright lie, but it’s not the whole truth.  Maybe there is some rationalization going on so that they confuse themselves and distort the truth in the process.

Reflect on vs. 31, and what this must have actually looked like, felt like, for the Ephesian church.  What does this summary of his ministry among them show about the proper attitude of a spiritual leader?

It’s incredible to think about what it must have been like for the church as well as Apostle Paul as he constantly warned each of the elders for three years.  Apostle Paul was definitely aware of the dangers within and without.  As he exhorted the elders for three years, he must have been keenly aware of the potential for some of them to distort truth and draw disciples after them.  Just because they had titles of elder, it didn’t mean they weren’t sinners.  So he anguished for them to the point of shedding tears.  He had so much love for others.  It’s not just the mental and physical toil, but more importantly, it’s the emotional toil that he endured out of love.  He was so zealous for each of them and their spiritual welfare that while he was with them, he didn’t spare himself at all.  This is the attitude that a spiritual leader needs.  He has to be someone who isn’t foremost looking out for himself.  He has to be full of love and zeal for the people he is ministering to.  He is very aware of the precarious situation we are in each day, a sense of embattlement.  There are wolves lurking around waiting to come in.  Just like it says in 1Peter 5:9, the devil prowls around waiting to devour so we as spiritual leaders need to be on the lookout, warning and exhorting so that we do not grow complacent.

APPLICATION

As a spiritual leader, entrusted with the lives of so many students and staff serving under our leadership, this text has everything to do with me.  It shows me that I have a lot more to go in imitating Apostle Paul’s love and zeal for others.  It also humbles me to know that I need to watch out for my own sins that have the potential to distort the truth and lead others astray.  I have to be well grounded in the Word of God as well as in the church.  I need others who can speak truth to me if I’m distorting it.  I need others to help me be a watchman against myself and also the savage wolves that are lurking.

Submitted by Rick Yi, Gracepoint Berkeley


Note the frequent occurrence of the words “you know …” in this passage. (Also from yesterday’s passages.) What is the significance of this?

The significance of this is that AP’s ministry is evident to all those he is speaking to. In this passage, he addresses the Ephesian elders and he appeals to their experience of his ministry amongst them. It is also significant that he is not speaking in the abstract or about transferring knowledge or ideas. He speaks about concrete action that the Ephesian elders have witnessed and benefitted from.

Imagine being a member of the Ephesian church while Apostle Paul was there. What might that have been like?

I think being a member of the Ephesian church during AP’s stay would have been a stirring and a polarizing time. AP served with great humility and tears, foiling the plots of the Jews and preaching anything that would have been helpful. He taught the whole will of God and warned them day and night with tears. I think being a recipient of AP’s ministry would have been a clarifying time during which God’s heart and God’s view of my life would be evidenced by AP’s life. I can imagine his exhortation was powerful, and sins that seemed tolerable became clearly inappropriate for one who claimed to be a follower of Christ. Because of this, I can imagine a lot of joy and fellowship for those who caught on to the message that AP preached. They forged a common vision amongst them, to live in response to the gospel as AP so clearly taught and exemplified. I imagine also that it was a clarifying time for those who did not want to confront the implications of AP’s message. For them, the issues of their lives would have become clear as AP’s message probably caused discomfort. In the end, I can imagine that AP’s constant warning and exhortation would have forced them to choose between responding to the gospel or pursuing other interests.

vs.28-32 Who does Apostle Paul warn the Ephesian elders against? Why would people in the church distort the truth?

AP warns against wolves and those who distort the truth. I think people in the church would distort the truth to satisfy their own desires. A proper response to the gospel entails a life of discipleship that leaves no room for certain desires. I imagine that to make room for such desires, people would have to distort the truth and lower the demands of discipleship so that they could remain in their identity and as part of the community, but satisfy their own desires.

Reflect on vs. 31, and what this must have actually looked like, felt like, for the Ephesian church. What does this summary of his ministry among them show about the proper attitude of a spiritual leader? This shows me that a spiritual leader is one cares deeply and passionately for the well-being of those he is leading.

What words describe Apostle Paul as an exemplary Christian leader?

AP did not covet wealth and material things. He supported himself as an example that the strong should not take from the weak. In this way, AP also showed how love and mercy dominated his motivations. His concern was for the gospel message to be preached, and he didn’t want anything to hinder the acceptance of that message.

APPLICATION

As a Christian, I have been called to lead others and communicate the gospel message with the same passion and intensity as AP. As a leader, I cannot shrink back from being that voice of exhortation and warning, especially in the midst of a sinful world and a hostile culture. This is what a life of love looks like. For the sake of those I lead, I cannot remain in emotional comfort or be persuaded to lower the standards of discipleship for myself and others because love demands that I earnestly seek the best for others.

Submitted by Richard Tay, Gracepoint Berkeley

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