“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 KJV
- But now I count as nothing the sacrifice of my life… Williams translation
- However, I consider my life worth nothing to me… NIV
- But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus…NLT
- But I make my life neither dear nor any account to myself… Berean Literal Bible
- But I fear none of these things… Douay-Rheims
I heard a preacher say recently one of the greatest challenges we face as believers is to rule our internal world.
Nothing so consistently challenges us as our tendency towards self preservation. We all carry certain belief systems regarding perceived entitlements in areas we feel something should be coming our way ‘just because’.
It doesn’t seem to matter that we know this is not the way of Jesus, but yet we still find ways to adapt to this weakness. May I suggest that the weakness does not reside in our physical, fleshly body, but somewhere in our souls belief system, allowing us to give permission to this fleshly nature and indulge self.
There are things residing in our hearts and minds we could look at governing this choice to serve self. I would suggest a foundational one being fear. We know the only thing that drives out fear is the love of God. Consequently, we are looking at a primary motivation for all our actions of doing to be driven, not by fear, but rather the constraining Love of God.
What gave Jesus, Paul, the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, the ability to move forward in the face of great hardship and obstacle?
Jesus, in the garden, faced with the crucifixion, chose to submit and obey the Fathers will. Only the love of God could motivate this.
Paul said in Acts 20:22, “And now behold I am going to Jerusalem constrained by the Spirit not knowing what will happen to me there except the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. BUT I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, If only I may finish my course and the ministry that I receive rom the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
What keeps a man moving forward when faced with that knowledge? Only the Love of God can compel him.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8 that the churches in Macedonia were being tested by many troubles, and were very poor, but were also filled with abundant joy overflowing in rich generosity. Paul testified they gave not only what they could afford, but far more and did it of their own free will.
How were they able to do that? Paul said they even did more than they had hoped, for, their first action was to give “themselves to the Lord and then to us, just as God wanted them to do.” While this specifically addresses finances, I think we are all mature enough to understand that how we handle money is simply a reflection of the level of freedom in our hearts. They didn’t have “much” but it wasn’t the amount that was significant it was the heart that was willing.
With an attachment to the heart of God, to his love working in us, keeping Him first place and others second will hold self serving motivations in check.
So, heart check; when and where I am asked to go against the grain of self, I must locate the fear which reinforces my desire to stay safe. All fear is driven by the fear of death. Self kicks in when I am fearful of losing any quality of life. Yet Jesus said I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly, John 10:10, and If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Jesus, you will find it, Matthew 10:39.
Let’s keep our lives in proper perspective living while dying daily.