Acts 20:17-18a, 28-32 - Now from Miletus he [Paul] sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them ... "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. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified."
Paul is worried. He is speaking to the elders of the church in Ephesus, and he knows that he will never see the people of that church again. And he loves those people. He has spent years teaching them and caring for them. They are precious to him.
Paul is worried, because he knows just how powerful sin can be. The leaders standing in front of him are probably completely innocent now. But statistically speaking, it's almost guaranteed that some of them will go bad. They will be tempted by power or prestige or glory or honor. They will realize just how easy it is to mislead people through what they say. And some of them will give into the temptation. This kind of thing happens in every congregation.
And so Paul urges them to be careful and to pay attention to the responsibilities that the Holy Spirit has given them. He wants them to be alert, like good shepherds who know that the wolves are coming.
Every time I read this, it amazes me to see how strongly Paul values this little group of Christians—how deeply God values each one of us who trusts in Jesus. It really does matter to Him if someone loses their faith—if someone has an argument with another Christian and stops coming to church, or if someone is tempted by money or sex or power and falls away from Jesus. They matter. You matter. Jesus laid down His life for you on the cross. He isn't going to stand by tamely and watch you be destroyed.
As you look at the other Christians around you in your own congregation, remember that those people have also been bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. They are infinitely valuable, just as you are. They are also fragile, and easily damaged or misled—just as you are, just as I am. May the Holy Spirit give us the love of Jesus so that we deal with each other with the love, gentleness, and compassion that Jesus has had on us.
WE PRAY: Dear Lord, open my eyes to see the value You place on each of us, and help me to love Your people as You have loved me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Are you aware of any conflicts in your congregation?
2. Would it change your choices if you looked at people on the other side remembering the price Jesus paid for them?
3. When you remember what Jesus paid for you, does that affect the way you think about yourself?
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