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Saying Goodbye

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35

When we say goodbye to the people we love, our parting conversations remain with us. We remember the intimacy of the setting, perhaps even the smells around us, but most of all, we recall those final exchanged words. Often, those words are, "I love you." Whatever, the last words spoken are of critical importance.

In today's verse, the apostle Paul is saying goodbye to the church leaders in Ephesus. He is confident he will never see them again and desires to leave them with a lasting message. Paul reminds them of his faithful service, teaching, and gospel proclamation. He emphasizes humility and perseverance despite trials. He charges them with care for the church, warning of false teachers, and the need for vigilance. But his final words are those revealed to him by Jesus, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" appears here. Paul highlights the joy and blessing of selfless giving and supporting the weak. His "I love you" to them was instructions to love and care for one another—the purest expression of God's grace.

After this, Paul demonstrates these words of love, and the account continues: "When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship." (v. 36-38)

Once our painful goodbyes are said, there is the learning to live afterward. It is carrying and practicing those final words and actions in our memories. Although Acts does not provide further details about the Ephesian church after Paul's departure, other sources indicate that it continued to thrive. In Revelation 2:1-7, the church received an epistle from Jesus Christ through the apostle John, commending the Ephesian believers for their hard work, perseverance, and refusal to tolerate false teachings.

While Paul's final words that day were spoken to the church leaders in Ephesus, they transcend time and hold as much meaning for us today as they did for us in the past. We should continue to remember and live them, giving our love and resources to lift each other. 

Heavenly Father, we come before You with hearts open, seeking wisdom and guidance. As we reflect on the words of the apostle Paul in Acts 20:35, we are reminded of the profound truth he shared: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Lord, teach us to embrace this principle in our lives. May we find joy not only in receiving Your blessings but also in generously giving to others. Help us to recognize that true fulfillment lies in selflessness, compassion, and service.

Grant us the grace to extend a helping hand to those in need. May we be channels of Your love, providing for the weak, the hurting, and the marginalized. Let our hearts overflow with kindness as Paul ministered to those around him.

Whether in churches, families, or communities, empower us to care for Your flock. May we lead with humility, integrity, and unwavering commitment. Strengthen their resolve to declare Your truth, even when faced with challenges.

Lord, remind us that our lives are not our own. Like Paul, may we consider our purpose fulfilled when we testify to the gospel of Your grace. Let us be faithful stewards of the resources You've entrusted to us, using them to build up others and advance Your kingdom.

And now, as we lift our voices in prayer, we commend ourselves to Your care. May Your word of grace continue to shape us, transforming our hearts and minds. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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