Shrinkage

The church is something to be taken very seriously. I cannot speak for everyone in ministry but the burden I carry to make sure to represent Christ in the most accurate and complete light is enormous.

In Acts 20, Paul instructs the elders of the church with these words:

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.  Acts 20:28 ESV

Notice: He makes sure to remind them of the cost paid for the church.

Speaking for myself, a lot of the weight I carry is knowing I’m responsible to speak hard truths to people I love which may threaten relationship. I think Paul knows this as he emphasizes and re-emphasizes the following ideas:

And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia,…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,  Acts 20:18 & 20 ESV (emphasis mine)

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.  Acts 20:26‭-‬27 ESV (emphasis mine)

Why would he be tempted to shrink if he wasn’t communicating something extremely difficult?  However, the point he’s trying to make is that he feels successful because he didn’t withhold the truth.  The takeaway for us is easier said than done.  Withholding hard, life-giving truth from a friend is, perhaps, the most selfish thing a person can do. Offering it – the most difficult.

If Christ paid such a high price to secure the church, it follows there will be some cost his followers pay as a result. But God is love and He doesn’t leave his children without reward as Paul summarizes in the following verse:

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35 ESV

Anyone who’s ever given understands the benefit. We don’t pursue giving for the reward but the “good feeling” we receive dulls the sting of the cost.

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