Day 19 – Bold Sacrifice – 3
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24, NIV)
What is the test that affirms we are being compelled and led by God’s Holy Spirit in where we go and what we do for Christ and His Kingdom? Surely Paul must have wrestled with the dangers of going to back to Jerusalem – fellow-apostles pleading with him not to go there. Paul reveals something interesting and important here. In every city that he had entered in His years of ministry the Holy Spirit had warned him about the reality of persecution and hardship. Though Paul was stubborn, he was continually faithful to His fulfill His calling to preach the gospel of salvation. Why? He was a changed man, Christ had not only opened his eyes, Paul was transformed by the light of Jesus’ grace and glory. When a person is made new in Christ there is nothing more gratifying and meaningful than to pass this on to others. Paul could face adversity with bold faith, counting sacrifice a privilege as long as others could also taste and see that gospel of God’s grace in Christ means everything and is worth our complete devotion.
How unselfish and sacrificial are we in our view of the Christian faith? How often do we complain when the going gets tough, or when the consequence of sharing the gospel of Jesus involves rejection or persecution? Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit will warn us, but will also encourage us to expect such treatment. We learn from Paul that such adversity can build our character, faith, and deepen our resolve and reliance upon God. After all, the most effective witness reveals a God who is bigger than our words and greater than our circumstances. This is a good lesson in a time of history where many people have flocked to the safety of Mega-Churches or have opted out of the church because of competing demands of time and resources. Being a disciple of Jesus means picking up your cross in order to follow Him, this will be true until we cross the finish line in our faith’s race.
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)