Monday, June 2, 2014

A GODLY LEADER (Acts Chapter 20)

Acts 20:28, “Care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”

At the conclusion of Paul’s third missionary journey, after spending three years in Ephesus (Cf. Acts 20:30-31), he addressed the elders of the church (Cf. Acts 20:17-38).  His message constituted his final and parting words to them and was filled with exhortations and warnings relevant to their leadership role.  He also spoke of his own attitude and behavior with respect to ministry.  His parting words to them are of great value to all who have interest in the spiritual nature and behavior of a godly leader.

He served with all humility (Acts 20:19).  In humility he served in the same spirit as the Lord Jesus Himself did (Cf. Philippians 2:1-8; Mark 10:45).  He did not “Lord it over” others, he servant-mindedly put their needs ahead of his own and followed in the self-sacrificing footsteps of the Lord Jesus.

He served with tears (Acts 20:19).  “Jesus wept” as He lovingly sympathized others (Cf. John 11:35).  He wept because he cared.  Paul served with tears because a Spirit-borne love for others had been planted in his heart.  He loving concern was like that of a “nursing mother taking care of her own children” (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:8).

He served amidst opposition (Acts 20:19).  God’s work done God’s way will also be met with opposition.  Paul was well aware of the “war the good warfare” nature of life and ministry (Cf. 1 Timothy 1:18).  He persevered.

He taught the whole counsel of God’s Word (Acts 20:20, 27).  Paul placed infinite value on the Scriptures (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:15-17) and affirmed its powerful ability to transform lives (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13).  He preached and taught not to “please man, but to please God” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).  Nothing from God’s Word—whether it appealed to others or not—was off limits (Cf. 2 Timothy 4:1-6).

He ministered to all (Acts 20:21).  Paul showed no partiality.  He understood that the “all-inclusive” gospel was no respecter of persons (Cf. Galatians 3:28).  He ministered to both Jew and Gentile and understood it to be both powerful enough, in Christ, to both save and unify (Cf. Romans 1:16; Ephesians 2:11-22).

He shared the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24).  Paul’s message was the gospel of grace--the gospel of salvation on the basis of grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone (Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-9).  The message he received from the Lord Himself, was the message that he preached (Cf. Acts 20:24; Galatians 1:11-12).

He served sacrificially (Acts 20:22-24).  Paul was willing and glad, in following Christ’s example, to “be spent” for the sake of souls (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:15; Philippians 2:15, 1:22).

He valued God’s people (Acts 20:28).  Paul understood the nature of the sacrifice by which Christ had brought the church into being.  He placed infinite value on the church and his members.  He was captivated by the desire to “present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28-29; Cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).

He cared for God’s people (Acts 20:28, 36).  Paul exhorted the elders in Ephesus to do that which he himself was already doing—that which Christ Himself had exemplified at the cross (Cf. Ephesians 5:25; 1 John 3:16).

He understood dependency on God’s grace (Acts 20:28, 32).  Paul himself was made an apostle by God’s grace (Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10).  The elders likewise were made elders by grace (i.e. “by the Holy Spirit”; Acts 20:32).  By grace alone are God’s servants called and equipped to serve.

He led by example (Acts 20:34).  Paul was willing to sacrifice and get “his hands dirty” in his ministry efforts.  He wasn’t off in some “ivory tower” dictating commands he himself was unwilling to do, he served, and in that provided an example worth following (Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17).  He worked hard (Acts 20:34).  He helped the weak (Acts 20:35).  He followed Jesus’ example (Acts 20:36), and in that respect he has provided for us a wonderful example of the nature of the ministry of a godly leader.

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