Keep Our Purpose In Mind

We are pilgrims. We are plodders, we Christians.

by Derrel Emmerson

20 When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. 2 He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, 3 where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. 4 He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. 5 These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. 6 But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days. (Acts 20:20-6)

This passage describes the passage of Paul through numerous places, with numerous disciples following from varied places. On the surface this travelling toward Jerusalem is taking perhaps as much as a year. The activity is sketchy but Paul is doing in all of these places what he always did. He is already collecting more aide for the Jerusalem church.

People in ministry often think things must be exciting all the time. However, so much of life is doing the same things over and over again. We are pilgrims. We are plodders, we Christians. God may grant us changes and even some excitement but we are called, as was Paul, to keep our purpose in mind, keep moving, do what we have come to do and touch as many people as we can.

Another thing we learn here is that Paul wove about in Macedonia and finally arrived in Greece to learn there was a plot against him so that he could not sail. Thus he changed his plans and did not sail. A ship’s dock would be the first place an assassin would look for him. It would be easy after that to dispatch him overboard after they got away from water. No one would be the wiser.

Instead of heading for Syria from a Grecian port Paul turned, retraced his steps and left by boat from Philippi. This kind of information is sometimes confusing to the reader of scriptures, meat for the student and a mine of valuable tidbits for the scholar. We may read it in any way we are inclined but we should always see how great a cost and how great pains have been made for us to know the gospel of Christ. It is enough insight to keep us thankful forever for the long train of witnesses who bore the message of God’s love for us to us.

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