Passing the Baton
“And now I entrust you to God and
the message of his grace
that is able to build you up and
give you an inheritance
with all those he has set apart for himself.
“I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes.
You know that these hands of mine have worked
to supply my own needs and
even the needs of those who were with me.
And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard.
You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus:
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
When he had finished speaking,
he knelt and
prayed with them.
Notice how this speech of Paul’s unfolds layer by layer. The last verse of the previous segment flows into the section on the Passing the Baton. Paul reminds the Ephesian elders of his constant care, prayers and tears for the Ephesian church over the three years he was with them. He demonstrated “how to” as he lived with the Ephesians. At this point he tells them to go and do likewise themselves. He was entrusting them with the message of God’s grace he had shared with them. God’s grace has given them a message that built them up. It has given them an inheritance which now they need to pass on to other people.
Paul said – I entrust to you the message of God’s grace
that built you up
and gave you an inheritance
with all those he has set apart
The inference is you now go and do likewise. You have seen what I have done through care, prayers and tears, now go and do the same. So that your inheritance as a result of God’s grace maybe extend to others also. To all those He has set apart or ear-marked for salvation. Do it freely. Just as you have freely received, now freely give. This message is all over the Gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Songs have been penned about the concept. It’s time to stop singing the songs and do the deed. It is a New Testament theme.
Paul stated he was not in this for the gold or the glory. He was not seeking to get rich from the Gospel. He wasn’t after the silver or the gold or the fine clothes. He was willing to work to provide for his needs through his own blood sweat and tears to provide both his needs and the needs of those around him. Paul is an example to us in this day and age just as he was to the those he served in New Testament times. He reminds us that it is far better to give than to receive. When we do it we realise the truth of that statement. This practice is a far cry from those prosperity preachers who seek to get rich from God’s people.
Paul has given us an example to follow as he often did. See how many times in his letters he said, “Follow my example just as I follow the example of Christ.” Oh not necessarily in the same words he penned in 1 Corinthians 11:1 or in Philippians 3:17 but in many places he makes it clear he sought to follow Christ and to leave us an example to follow. Both in terms of the message we were to share and in the way in which we were to share it. Freely or generously.
Now that he has said his final words to these people he considered precious, he knelt and committed them to God. Why? Because Paul knew that they were ambassadors, emissaries of God to bear this same message to others. Do you see how the message is unfolding? Don’t just read each segment of the Bible as though it is unconnected to that which is around it. Notice how this second book Luke is writing has unity. Jesus tells the disciples they will be his witnesses from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Luke then tells us how that happened – from Peter to Paul and from Jerusalem to Miletus. And soon, from Ephesus to the hinterland. Always on the basis of overcoming by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony as we carry this precious message onward from generation to generation.
You, my friend, are the continuing story of the Acts of the Apostles (the sent ones). That is why the Book of Acts doesn’t have an ending. You are just another cog in the wheel or Paul in the wall. Living stones being built into a spiritual temple – the body of Christ worldwide.
Treat people like you want to be treated, and suddenly you have a new best friend.Edward Suhadi
When you’re in love, it won’t matter who’s right or wrong. All you know is you’re in it for the long haul.D. Ridgley
I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.Booker T. Washington
Success is not a matter of how much money you make but how many people you take with you.Ian Vail