The Apostle Paul, as a result of his total commitment to Christ, attracted intense devotion from those he converted. In today’s 20th chapter of Acts, he told them, “I do not count my life of any value, nor as precious to myself.” [v.24]. This is a total contrast to the attitude seen by nearly everyone today, attitudes which can influence us. They live to serve themselves and find pleasures – some of them very fleshly!
Paul reflects on how he had been among them “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials … I did not shrink from teaching you … of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” [v. 19-21]
We note his emphasis on teaching a way of life, just as much as seeing making sure they correctly understood God’s will and purpose. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” [ I Cor. 11 v.1] Paul tells the Corinthians. Our Lord illustrated this in his life; his love was seen by his actions, his spirit of compassion – even as they were leading him to the cross. His is the ultimate example that Paul was following. When we say we are followers of Christ – how do show we mean what we say?
In the Old Testament we are reading the Song of Songs, we can see this, at least partly, as an allegorical story illustrating the love between Christ and his bride and her response and seeking for him. Parts of the story illustrated this today when we read how the bridegroom says, “I came into my garden, my sister, my bride” [5 v.1]. She responds, “He is altogether desirable. This is my beloved” [v.16]. Do we see Christ in this way? Surely we desire his return – with all our heart!
Christ will come into his garden when he returns to make this world a paradise. May that time come, as our world is certainly not a paradise today! May we experience the greatest possible joy when we see our faith turned to sight. Paul wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” [Romans 8 v.35] and the answer is nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” [v.39].
But we must not count this life as of any value, except as we can create opportunities to be imitators of our Lord. We can also be imitators of Paul for he told believers, “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (quoted above)
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