And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, (Acts 20:17-20 KJV)
I have been very busy in recent days; I sincerely apologize for that. That was why I have not written anything for some days now. I finished my part in a prayer chain just this morning, and I decided that I must write before I go to bed. One thing that you must learn as you seek to serve the Lord in the coming days is the transience of time. Time is speedily passing by, and with it also are passing opportunities. Hence, the servant of the Lord must learn how to prioritize and set goals, and how to discipline himself in his social interactions (live or on social media). I wish you will go and read up Acts 20 vs. 17-38. It was Paul’s moving speech to the Ephesian elders on the last day of their ever seeing his face. He could not stop by to see the Ephesians on this missionary trip, because he was bound by the Spirit to be in Jerusalem shortly, so he passed by Ephesus to beat time. However, when the ship he was in stopped by at Miletus for some reasons, he decided to leverage the opportunity to give a farewell speech to the Ephesian elders. Hence, from Miletus he sent for them and they came to see him. Now, here is Paul’s testimony (in my own words):
“All of you know, from the first day I entered Asia Minor, how I conducted myself, and how I handled my life and business as a man. My life was not hidden from you; it was lived out in open sight for all to see. Times without number, the Jews plotted to take my life (because of how I, a Jew, drew people away from the synagogue and held meetings in the School of Tyrannus), and I face a lot of temptations and adversities. Most times, the pressure will be so strong on me that I will have no choice but to break down in tears; but despite it all, I kept on serving the Lord. I decided not to quit, but to do my best whatever the cost; and this I did with all humility and sincerity of mind.
There was nothing that you needed to know to be a successful Christian that I did not teach you (except the one I did not know), but I never hid from you anything you needed to excel in life simply because of what men will say or how you will feel about it. Whether we met at the School of Tyrannus, or when I visited you people in your various houses and counseled you, I declared unto all of you the whole counsels of God. Whether you were a Greek or a Jew, I never failed to tell you that all of us have only one access to Eternal Life- repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, the Spirit is compelling me to move in to Jerusalem. I know Jerusalem had been so hostile to the Gospel of Christ which I have championed, and I don’t know how they will treat me when I get there. You may tell me to be positive and expect good, but I am not confused. At least I know that the Spirit of God is telling me clearly that imprisonments and tortures are waiting for me in every single city I enter. So, while others can go into a city expecting to be accepted, welcomed and honoured; I can only expect trouble. But it is ok; I am not really confused, I know what I signed up for. I am a soldier, so I do not count my life too precious to be wasted if I can do so running my race and carrying out the command that I received from my Lord Jesus Christ- the command to preach and bear witness to the Gospel of God’s Grace.
Now, I know that none of you sitting here will ever see my face again, but I declare before you and before the Almighty God that if any soul in Ephesus perishes, it will not be my fault. I did not fail to use every means at my disposal to share with you the whole of God’s eternal plan for mankind. At least, I know that I did my best.
So, I tell you, pay close attention to yourselves (your motives and your actions); and also watch carefully over the brethren which God has given your to be shepherds over. Ensure that you give them all the food that they need at the right time (remember that Jesus purchased this Church with His precious blood, and He will not take it lightly with you if they are malnourished). I am saying this because once I am gone, some deceivers will enter in among you and they will not have mercy on the church of Jesus. In fact, even from among you men will rise who will misinterpret the scriptures and what we teach simply so that they can have their own flock of disciples. But remember that for 3 years I stayed in Ephesus, I was warning you night and dear (even with tears), so that you will not derail God’s Church.
So, brethren, I leave you in God’s hands, and to His Word of Grace. If you abide in Him and in His Word of Grace, He will build you up and give you a portion among His holy and separated people. Once again, remember that I did not do this ministry with an eye on your riches or material possessions. In fact, I had to work with my hands to earn a living, so that from my example, you will learn how to labour so that you can have what to eat, and to support the weak and the poor with; also remembering the words of the Lord Jesus that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Let us pray.
They all knelt down and prayed, and also wept and kissed Paul’s neck; primarily because he told them prophetically that they will not see his face again. Paul had really been a blessing to them, and they were going to miss his watchful and guiding eyes, and his whole-hearted labour for their well-being. Well, it is important to note that even though Paul may never had set his feet on Ephesus again, but he write them letters; and in the coming days, God was to disperse the Apostle John to Ephesus were he laboured till the end.
AND SO? Paul, the Apostle is gone. The ball is now in our court. What will be our testimony? Can we say that we did our best? Can we say that we laboured with all sincerity, even in the midst of trials, temptations and tears? It is important that we pray for the true heart of a labourer and a soldier, so that in all that we do, we will truly serve the purpose of God in our generation, and really finish the race with joy.