Paul invested his heart and soul in people. He also invested his time in them — and nowhere more than in the city of Ephesus. Paul spent three years with the Ephesians, preaching and teaching.
He uses an interesting turn of phrase as he speaks to the Ephesian leaders for the very last time. He tells them that all along, he wanted his messages to be helpful to them.
I don’t know if we always get the fact that this is what God wants to do when he gives us his word through the apostles — he wants to be helpful. Yes, the end goal, as Paul says, is that we turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
But do we understand that it’s not just a matter of God getting his way, or self-importantly making his kingdom larger, or forcing his will upon us? God doesn’t need us to get his way, he’s not about making something larger to impress anyone, and he woos us rather than tries to force matters.
Actually, for God, it’s not about him at all. It’s about us. Everything he teaches us is about trying to help us…
Help us overcome sin. Help us find our eternal home in heaven. Help us out of the hurts, habits and hang-ups that threaten to cause us to self-destruct.
Jesus sent apostles like Paul to be helpful, because that is his heart. Jesus is a servant. And he came to serve, not to be served.
He came to help us. And isn’t that what the Psalmist said hundreds of years before the apostle Paul? He wrote: “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20, NIV).
And just as Jesus came to be helpful, so it is with the church today. We come to be helpful. We teach and we preach to be helpful. And that’s exactly what we know will happen when people repent and put their faith in the Lord Jesus.
They will be helped — and in the most important way possible!
“You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:20-21, NIV).
Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you for the message of Paul and the other apostles. Thank you most of all for the gospel. Grant me your Holy Spirit and lead me to repentance. Increase my faith in your Son Jesus. Be my helper throughout life, and lead me to life eternal.
Our Bible reading for Tuesday, June 30, is 2 Kings 1:1 – 2:25, Acts 20:1-38 and Psalm 78:40-55.
Header image based on "Help!" by Pablo, CC By-SA 2.0