Don’t forget the tears
JULY 18, 2023
Don’t forget the tears. Let’s talk about it, on this edition of Key Life.
That was Steve Brown. He’s an author, seminary professor and our teacher on Key Life, a program all about God’s radical grace. We’re committed to bringing you Bible teaching that’s honest, straight-forward, and street-smart. Keep listening to hear truth that’ll make you free.
Thank you Matthew. If you were listening yesterday, we are looking at the 20th chapter of Acts as our part of, our study of the Book of Acts. I think we started this back when Columbus came to America, and we will finish this study just before Jesus returns. This has turned out to be longer than I thought it would, but in the 20th chapter of Acts, we’ve looked at Eutychus who fell asleep during a sermon. I’ve done that and been there and Paul made sure he was restored after this young man Eutychus fell out of a window and went on preaching. And then we looked at the second incident in the 20th chapter of Acts where Paul was in Miletus. And he calls for the elders to come down and join him from Ephesus. And it is one of the most moving and most powerful passages in the Bible, and certainly in the book of Acts. And in this particular goodbye message that Paul goes through, we’re able to see his true greatness. Now, it goes without saying that Paul was childlike sometimes and sometimes childish. He was a sinner and he said he was a sinner. He knew that he needed the grace of God and that’s why he taught it. Sometimes he was angry beyond what a Christian ought to be angry, and sometimes he was soft when he should not have been, but yet he was great. And you can find the reasons for that in this 20th chapter of Acts. Now, I’m not going to, I’m not going to read it to you again, but I’m going to be referring to it as we go along and we’ve already mentioned that Paul had a single purpose, Acts 20:19.
Serving the Lord with all humility, with tears and with trials which befell me through the plots of the Jews.
Now, you might want to substitute religious people, they were Jews, but there’s something about religion that can be toxic. And Paul experienced that. And then in the 24th verse, he says.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In other words, Paul had a passion. He had a vision, he had a purpose, and that purpose was the biggest thing in his life, and it drove him, and that’s why he was great. I sometimes when I see young men and young women who are very bright and very gifted in a thousand ways, I pray for them. Cause when I see that, I know they’re going to’ struggle with more than one passion and it’s going to drive them nuts. I’ve often said to young men who were going into the ministry and young women who were quite gifted, find one thing to which you have been called and give your life to it and be willing to die for it. Soren Kierkegaard, who was the first existentialist, and he was a believer, since then, most existentialists have been atheist, at least the ones who were famous. Kierkegaard said, this singleness of heart is to will one thing. And that’s what happened with Paul. After he was whacked and he was converted, was blind and could see and became a part of the people he had been persecuting, he had one driving force.
This one thing I do,
forgetting which lie that which lies behind, I press on to the goal of the upward calling of Christ Jesus.
Paul had a burden for souls and for people, and for people seeing Jesus in everything, and it burned in him. And when he was at Miletus and he was saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders, you can see it sticking out every place. He’s going to Jerusalem. And the prophets have warned him that he’s going to go to jail, and it wasn’t for a parking ticket. He knew he might be executed, and yet he climbed on the boat and he went there because he had a passion and he couldn’t get rid of it. If you have kids and they’re not, and you’re worried about them and who isn’t, and you’re thinking that maybe they’re turning away from the faith and the life that you taught them, let me tell you something that’s good news. The only thing you gave your kids was a compass, and it points in the right direction and they can’t get rid of it. I mean, there are times they want to get rid of it, they wish they could forget it, they wish they could ignore it, but they can’t. That compass always points in the right direction and it will be there until the day they die. That’s what Paul had, he had a compass that pointed in the direction of God and it would be there until they die. And then secondly, I want you to see something about Paul that’s really important and that’s the tears, his abundant love, Acts 20:19.
Serving the Lord with all humility and tears.
And all things I have shown that by, so toiling one must help the weak.
And they all wept and embraced Paul and kissed him sorrowing, most of all because of the word he had spoken that they would see his face no more.
That’s sometimes missing with us, isn’t it? I mean, if you’ve got truth and you speak it to the world so that they will have no excuse, whoever they are, if you have truth and you speak it, if you serve in tremendous ways and are faithful to the place God has called you, if you are a man or a woman of faith and everybody knows that and there are no tears, then it’s not going to be worth dink. Paul had tears and it reflected the love that was so clearly a part of what defined him in his greatness. Karen Horney, who was at one time a debt therapist at Harvard, used to define two kinds of love. One kind of love is father’s love, and the other kind of love is mother’s love. And she said that father’s love says, I’ll love you no matter what you do. And mother’s love says, I’ll love you. No, no, I’m getting that. You know, I’m an old guy, I’m doing the best I can. Let me back up and say it again. Karen Horney said that father’s love says, as long as you do what I want you to do, I’ll love you. And mother’s love says, no matter what you do, I will love you. And as you read the apostle Paul, his letters and I’ve read them and taught them over and over again. As you read the Book of Acts and you look at his missionary journeys, and especially when you get to the 20th chapter of Acts and you see his goodbye to the Ephesian elders and his tears, you realize that this is a man who’s going to love the people to whom God has sent him, no matter who they are or what they’ve done or where they’ve been. And Paul shows that over and over and over again. For so many years, I would say from the pulpit, I’m here to teach you, I’m not your mother, and I did everything to keep people out of my life until somebody pointed out. Unless you get the people of God on your heart, your ministry is never going to be effective. I could tell you stories of people I hurt because I was a teacher and not a lover. One man took me to lunch after I had fired somebody on the staff and said he loved us, you teach us. And I began to see that something was wrong with that and I prayed, Lord, break my heart, Lord, put your people on my heart. Allow me to see the reality of who they are as those you love. And he did. And it broke my heart. That’s why Paul was great. Paul was great because of his love. And his love was manifested in his tears. Ask God to give you faithfulness. But make sure you ask God to give you tears too. You think about that. Amen.
Paul was great, but not for the reasons we often call people great. Most of all, we can’t forget the tears. Thank you Steve. Today we continued exploring the truth and emotion found here in Acts 20, and God willing, we shall continue from here tomorrow. Sure hope you’ll join us then. Well, Steve touched on this a moment ago. The times our kids and grandkids have questions about their faith that lead them in a bad direction. And guess what? In trying times like that, we often have questions too. But remember this, questions and even doubt can actually strengthen our faith. Well, Steve is no stranger to doubts and questions. In fact, he wrote about these things in a mini-book called Faith and Doubt: When Belief is Hard. May we send you this mini-book, for free? Just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that mini-book or to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Just ask for the free mini-book called Faith and Doubt: When Belief Is Hard. And finally, if you value the ministry of Key Life, would you support our ministry through your giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or simply pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.