25I have gone from place to place, preaching to you about God's kingdom, but now I know that none of you will ever see me again. 26I tell you today I am no longer responsible for any of you! 27I have told you everything God wants you to know. 28Look after yourselves and everyone the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be like shepherds to God's church. It is the flock he bought with the blood of his own Son.
29I know that after I am gone, others will come like fierce wolves to attack you. 30Some of your own people will tell lies to win over the Lord's followers. 31Be on your guard! Remember how day and night for three years I kept warning you with tears in my eyes.
32I now place you in God's care. Remember the message about his gift of undeserved grace! This message can help you and give you what belongs to you as God's people. 33I have never wanted anyone's money or clothes. 34You know how I have worked with my own hands to make a living for myself and my friends. 35By everything I did, I showed how you should work to help everyone who is weak. Remember that our Lord Jesus said, “More blessings come from giving than from receiving.”
36After Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37Everyone cried and hugged and kissed him. 38They were especially sad because Paul had told them, “You will never see me again.”
Then they went with him to the ship.
In his final meeting with the elders in Ephesus, Paul reminded them of the work that he had accomplished among them. He encouraged them saying, “follow my example and reflect on why and how I have served you!” (vv. 18-21).
If I were to have a “last meeting” with those whom I loved, as Paul did, what would be the one example from my life of service that would serve as a fitting and final word of exhortation to them? Perhaps, wisdom would suggest that I first stop and seriously examine my own lifestyle.
The apostle Paul never ever worked for a personal benefit of any kind. Paul unreservedly shared all that he was and all that he had without ever expecting a material gain in return. He operated exclusively out of love for God and other people. What about my own motives? Would I honestly be able to lay bare what motivates me to action?
The Lord has placed on each of us a call to serve him and, without fail, he gives us opportunities to fulfill this call. Am I willing to offer myself and all that I have to him, so that his love and the message of the gospel might be made known to all around me?
For example, would I be willing to use my car and my time to help someone in need? Would I jump to the occasion to extend some gesture of hospitality or go and meet someone who needed me? Do I find myself in a state of readiness and willingness to offer my talents and gifts to others?
Actually, it doesn’t matter what opportunities the Lord places before us. What matters is our pure motives, not our selfish ones! Motives that are steeped in a love for God, love for the gospel and love for people. Remember what our Lord said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”! (v 35, NIV)
Lord, when you look at me, you see my heart because nothing is hidden from you. I do acknowledge that my motives are not always what you would wish for me. Help me to serve always with love for you and for my neighbour and may it be with joy! For Jesus’ sake, Amen.