Summary: Paul gives us a great example of a godly servant who demonstrated a tearful humility that produced great results
Why Serving the Lord Involves Humility, Tears and Trials?
(Acts 20: 19)
Why do so many people struggle to be transparent and open in their relationships?
Illustration:Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda describes his battle with bad habits: "I took a pack of cigarettes from my pocket, stared at it and said, "Who’s stronger, you or me?" The answer was me. I stopped smoking. Then I took a vodka martini and said to it, "Who’s stronger, you or me?" Again the answer was me. I quit drinking. Then I went on a diet. I looked at a big plate of linguine with clam sauce and said, "Who’s stronger, you or me?" And a little clam looked up at me and answered, "I am." I can’t beat linguine.
Ron Fimrite in Sports Illustrated.
Paul’s transparency and openness: Paul wrote, "I served the Lord with humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews." (Acts 20:19)
1. Why do you suppose that Paul told the elders that he served the Lord with humility, tears and trials?
Surely, Paul was not bragging or complaining about his problems. Perhaps, it had to do with the fact that Paul wanted to prepare the leaders of the church to expect similar hardships.
When we are able to anticipate difficulties, we are able to mentally, socially, emotionally and spiritually prepare ourselves for the battle.
Paul did not want the elders to be caught off guard so he spoke plainly about what is involved in committed Christian service.
If you are unwilling to undergo humiliations, tears and trials, God will not promote you to a position of Christian leadership or even keep you there. Service for the Lord is not filled with stock options, fancy perks and human pleasures.
Paul knew that the Ephesians’ elders would soon have to fight opposition as he faced in Ephesus.
Paul wrote, “For I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29,30)
When we are involved in Christian service we can expect opposition from outside and inside the church.
Ask the Lord to help you draw upon the joy of the Lord for your strength to serve with humility, tears and trials. (Neh. 8:10)
2. Paul knew that humility meant having a consciousness of our dependence on the Lord for all things. The great apostle had an unassuming character where he gave little evidence of personal pride, arrogance or selfish ambition.
Paul learned how to be mild and patient with everyone. The great missionary knew how to resist the temptation to become angry, upset or resentful toward others.
Paul was not spineless in his submissiveness, yet he avoided pretensions, boastfulness, conceit and remained modest about his achievements.
Learn how to be yielded to God’s absolute right to control everything about you. Do not dwell on what people owe you or the way you think things ought to be.
Consider how the grace of God makes you a debtor, as we are guilty, vile and helpless without Christ.
Ask the Lord to help you follow the humble example of the apostle Paul.
3. Paul knew how to shed tears for best things. He did not cry over the fact that he got little respect for who he was or what he accomplished.
If you are not mourning perhaps you need to start caring more about what breaks the heart of God – the lost, the lonely and the hurting.
Ask the Lord to help you to learn how to pray with tears for the needs of those who suffering.
4. Paul knew that God uses trials to make one complete in Christ. (James 1:2-5) He saw trials as a part of growing in all aspects in Christ. The great apostle knew that God allowed the trials to come for the best reasons. He trusted in God’s sovereign wisdom, power and love to use trials to accomplish His good work in and through him.
Ask the Lord to help you learn how to see trials in the way Paul did who wrote from a prison cell, “That I may know Him and the fellowship of His suffering being conformed to Him even to His death.” (Phil. 3:8-10)
5. Paul knew that it took courage to go through all of life’s hardships. He said, “I did not shrink back from giving you anything that was helpful.” (Acts 20:20)
The great apostle had the attitude he could face and deal with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult or painful through the strength found in Christ.
Instead of withdrawing from humility, trials and tears, Paul fearlessly and bravely moved ahead with a purposeful mind.