“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” 36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20.32-38
Paul deeply cares about the believers. He is preparing for what would be his final missionary journey. He would be traveling to Rome and he would not return. I think he realizes this because he says that “they would never see his face again.”
In Paul’s parting words to the disciples, he reminds them of a few very items — 1) he commits the Lord to them and to the word of his grace, reminding them that this can build them and give them an inheritance. 2) He reminds them that he “has not coveted anyone’s silver, gold or clothing,” and 3) that he provided for much of his own support and the needs of others with his own hands. 4) Lastly, he shows them how to help the “weak,” because Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Paul’s instructions were like a father sending his kids to college. They are like words I shared recently with a Faith Academy class — words of wisdom, insight and sending forth. These are the final moments he has with those he has poured into deeply. And much of his emphasis is on personal and social holiness which is the sum of the Gospel (but we can not have one without the other.)
At the end of Paul’s speech they said their goodbyes. Kneeling and praying, weeping, embracing and kissing him with a holy kiss. They were grieved and then walked with him to the ship.
Paul’s contribution to Christianity is immeasurable. I am able to write these words to you partly because of Paul and the early disciples, those leaders like Paul who took the Word of God and made it accessible to all people. And now at the end of his journey, Paul’s passing off the baton to those he helped grow in the faith.
Our challenge is to not only to heed the words of Paul, but to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus. We are called to proclaim his Good News to the world and to see transformation happen in individual hearts and in society as a whole.
How are you speaking out for Christ? To whom are you investing? How might God use you to communicate his message to the world?
“O Lord God, you are so faithful. When my love fails, your love remains steadfast. This life is such a gift. To be able to work for you, to enjoy the fruits of your labor through me, and to be filled by your Holy Spirit is living. Come now, Holy Spirit, help me walk as you would walk. Help me know the Son and so imitate his nature. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen