Why does an insult outside of the gospel become a virtue inside of it? Because Christian ministry is not about extraordinary men and women of excellent character, but about a great Savior who can save the weakest, most broken and most guilty sinners. I don’t want to leave people with an example to admire, but a Savior to trust in.
4. I finished strong.
Many people start following Christ with excellent intentions, but they simply don’t persevere to the end. At this point in Paul’s life, he had accomplished a lot, but he knew that it would all be for nothing if he didn’t finish strong (Acts 20:24).
One of the main reasons we have trouble finishing is a divided heart. We want to complete the assignment Jesus has given us, but other things begin to pull at us. I want to be faithful to Jesus, but I also want to be with her. I want to stand with Jesus, but I really need their approval. I want to do what Jesus says, but I also want to own that. And our divided loves keep up from finishing what we started in faith.
We need to faithfully finish each chapter that Jesus has set before us. If you’re in college, then finish strong, making the most of your time there. If you’re a young mother, finish strong with your kids, knowing that this season doesn’t last forever (though it sometimes feels like it). If you’re a husband and father, finish strong with your family. Don’t be one of those guys who checks out in his 50s, buys a sports car, unbuttons his shirt to his navel and plays golf all day. Finish!
5. I gave more than I took.
Paul thought of a fulfilled life as one in which he gave more than he took (Acts 20:35). That’s a good perspective to adopt in all of your relationships. In your friendships, do you give more than you take? In your marriage, do you serve your spouse more than you expect him/her to serve you? In your career, do you see your work just as your way of making money or as a platform to bless others and serve the mission of God? In your retirement, do you view life as one big vacation or as a time to continue serving others?
Where do we get the strength to give more than we take? Only by looking to Christ. Paul was able to spend himself for the sake of others because there was one relationship in which he would always take more than he could give—his relationship to Christ. Jesus had given up far more for Paul than he would ever take from him.
We can never repay Jesus for what he has done for us. But because he gave himself fully for us, we can give ourselves to others without worrying about whether they will give back.