We’ve all seen some semblance of the scenario in a movie when a relationship is holding on by a hair and the one who wants to make it work essentially says, “Just tell me what to do!” When he goodbye is pending or there’s a lot to lose, we tend to cut to the chase. Acts 20 provides a spin off that scene. With Paul’s trip to Jerusalem nearing in the horizon, he gathers the leaders from surrounding churches to address them as a group one last time. What does he say (to them, but really to us as well) when the stakes are high and the goodbye is imminent?
First, you know me (Acts 20:18). Paul was known because he was transparent, vulnerable and humble. Compelling leadership comes out of these three qualities. Paul goes on implore the teaching of the Gospel message, starting with repentance. Without repentance, there is no grace, no forgiveness and no Gospel good news. It starts with repentance. He continues by asking us to stay on our guard — of others, but also ourselves! — that the sole motivation behind spreading the Gospel message would be God’s glory alone. Finally, Paul closes by committing his dear friends to God and praying for them (Acts 20:32-36). That last act of prayer is what I find most beautiful and perhaps surprising. I think most of us would want to end with an, “I love you.” Paul chooses to end with a deeper and more moving truth — He loves you. And He really does.
God just help me to seek repentance and then to boldly live with transparency, vulnerability, and humility.