From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. (Acts 20: 17-19)
No doubt Demetrius, the other silversmiths who crafted statues of Artemis, and Jews who were jealous continued spreading false rumors and attacking Paul’s character after he left. We get an in-depth peek at Paul’s heart while he defends his ministry by reminding the elders of three important characteristics he displayed.
He consistently taught the Ephesians the whole time he was with them—no partying, playing games, or taking weekend excursions. Secondly, in serving the Lord with humility, he put their needs before his own and turned the other cheek when the artisans and Jews persecuted him. Thirdly, Paul served the Lord with tears because of severe testing by the plots of his Jewish opponents. To Paul, all Jews were family and their plots were a test. He loved them deeply and cried when they rejected Jesus.
Are we consistent with our goals to teach and encourage and follow up to confirm our success? Do we turn the other cheek and not get distracted by persecution and problems? When others mistreat us, do we confront them empathetically to discover the cause of their abuse? Do we consider their mistreatment a test to react godly?
Father, I praise You for imparting Your wisdom. Help me to consistently teach and/or encourage _________ and not get distracted from this goal. Assist me to discover why others mistreat me by approaching them empathetically. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.