The older I get, the more legacy matters to me. I hope it's not
just an ego trip, but rather to leave behind something that matters and thus, will last. As a servant of Christ, I want His name, gospel, and values to be understood and lived-out by people I've had to influence. My wife and I have even decided that our gravestones will simply read, "Joel & Karen Rissinger...They Served Jesus."
Now don't get me wrong, I want a couple more decades to work at this--I'm not ready to "check-out" just yet. But to guide me, I love to use the Apostle Paul's final words to the elders at Ephesus. His passion, commitment, and values are so clear here. Let's walk through this message and connect with what I consider marching orders toward a true Christian legacy:
Acts 20:17 But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus, asking them to come and meet him. 18 When they arrived he declared, “You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now 19 I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. 20 I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes.
* Paul didn't shrink-back. No matter what people or just life in general threw at him, he kept going. He didn't allow the fear of men or their opinion of him stop him from speaking the truth. Let that be me Lord.....
21 I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.
* That's it. the gospel IS our message. Turn from sin, turn to God through absolute trust in Jesus for forgiveness, power, and leadership!
22 “And now I am bound by the Spirit[b] to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, 23 except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. 24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
* Wherever He calls us to go and whatever he asks us to do, our work of sharing the gospel is worth more than any suffering or trial. There is blessing and fulfillment in accomplishing the will of God--far above our personal, human goals or plans!
25 “And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. 26 I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault,[c] 27 for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.
* I want Paul's clean conscience. He knows that he's done his part. What they do with the truth he's shared is up to them. Paul is not accountable for the outcome of others' lives. Is simply accountable for sharing the truth as he was commanded. Amen.
28 “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood[d]—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.[e] 29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31 Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you. 32 “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.
* Like Christ before him, Paul was under no delusions about men--even supposed Christian men--and their potential to sin and pursue evil (see John 2:24-25). Paul warns his leaders to be wise in this way. Love people...trust only God.
33 “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. 34 You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. 35 And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’"
* Paul wasn't greedy and worked to support himself. Over the years, I've tried to do the same and set this example. As Paul taught, there's nothing wrong with earning a living by preaching the gospel. Still, nobody should focus on riches and greed. Having enough, we should be content and give, give, give!
36 When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. 37 They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. 38 They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship.
* Praying together is perhaps the greatest way to bond. The affection between Paul and his leaders is heartwarming. May this be true in my life--and all of our lives as well.
Yes, I want to live-out a legacy...like that of Paul. I want to help others do the same.
To that end,