“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all” (Acts 20:33-36).
At times it is necessary to give admonitions to those we love and are concerned about. There are some who may react negatively to our counsel, warnings, or gentle advice and we certainly do not want to be the cause of any Christian stumbling and falling in his service to God (Rom 14:13).
Speaking to the elders at Ephesus, Paul reminded them there were three things they should know about him and his love for them.
· They should know how Paul had served the Lord with all humility of mind while he was with them in Ephesus (Acts 20:18-19).
· The elders also knew that Paul had suffered many temptations in Asia at the hands of the Jews (Acts 20:19).
· They knew that Paul had not kept back anything profitable from them, but he had declared the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20-27).
Paul also reminded them that he was pure from the blood of all men, because he had declared the whole counsel of God (Acts 18:5-6, 20:20-21, 26-27). The context of this message (Acts 20:28-31) gives us the major works elders in the church are responsible for wherever they serve.
· He also reminded them they must protect the flock from wolves, those who would subvert their souls by false doctrine.
The major reason Paul worked with his hands while he was in Ephesus was to be an example to the elders of the church of serving others and helping the weak. He was demonstrating Jesus’ teaching that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:33-35). These men accepted Paul’s admonition and even cried as he departed from them. They knew they would not see Paul’s face again (Acts 20:25, 37-38).
Some, like the elders at Ephesus, accept the admonitions given to them and grow from their experience, while others reject any counsel for themselves. I knew an older couple who earnestly desired to help a young married couple to learn better how to love each other and to be good examples in the church. The young people were Christians and should have applied the scriptures to themselves and grown by them rather than demonstrate bad attitudes toward each other. The husband should have known the way he treated his wife was hindering his own prayers (1 Pet 3:7). We humans do not always perceive ourselves the way outsiders do, and so the young man was oblivious of what others saw. The older couple prayed and fasted about their intended meeting for over a week, eating only bread and water and lying prostrate on the floor as they begged God’s help in their upcoming discussion. Their love for the young couple was deep, and their longing for peace in that marriage was stronger than any could have imagined. God heard their prayers and blessed the young couple to make needed adjustments, even though the admonition was not initially pleasant. What a blessing it was for those two as well as for their family in years to come.