Acts 20: 25-38
25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32 “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.
This passage retells the farewell account of Paul as he leaves the church in Ephesus. It is clear that this is a heartwarming scene of a spiritual father encouraging the leaders to care about the church as he departs for good. He charges them to keep watch especially over the flock that Christ bought with his own blood, a charge that is not to be taken lightly but embraced fully. To work hard and help the weak, because there will be trouble coming in the form of detractors, wanting to lead the flock astray. By the example of Paul, the church is to not just sit back, see that what they have is good, and be a burden. Rather, they are to embrace and remember that they have much work to do in living as they are called to be the people of God. Paul wanted them to see that the fruit of the labor of loving and raising up of the church requires as much he has given and it is possible for those he is entrusting do the same.
Many of us who are working know that we just don’t work for the sake of it, but for the very reason that we need to provide for ourselves and for our families. If we don’t do the work, then it is possible that we would lose our job. However, as a people who are set to live for His purposes, we have a better, eternal reason to work hard. Beyond the earthly rewards, we are to work each day in living out this love in the church and amongst the people that Jesus loves who are not in the flock yet. We have no choice but to be on guard for this very purpose, not imposing undue hardship on each other, but lifting each other up according to what we have been abundantly given. Let’s ask the Lord to give us the strength to persevere, the endurance from the Spirit, and that He would sustain us each step of the way. May God have mercy on us as we work hard for His kingdom!