According to secular and biblical accounts, Paul was about 58 years old when he was martyred. Death was not his choice. For most Western cultures, that is not an old man. We tend to think of another eight or nine years of work after 58 to build retirement funds and live in leisure for another 20 to 30 years.
Not Paul! As we noticed yesterday from Acts 20:24, there was nothing more on his heart and mind than being able to “finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.” He speaks of his “ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named” (Romans 15:20). Was this unique to Paul only? Think of the many missionaries who have gone to the ends of the earth and given everything to give the life changing message of Jesus to some who have never heard.
Not for one moment do I think we should abandon responsibilities of caring for our families, for Paul exhorted Timothy; “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Those are strong words that must be heeded. That is not the core issue I am addressing.
Let’s go back to my first thought of retirement as a way of life and leaving behind an inheritance. There is nothing sinful in either, but what if you left behind a godly example for others to follow (especially your family). Would they say of you, ‘he (or she) finished the race, kept the faith, and there is a crown of righteousness laid up for them which the Lord will give?’ Are you running well
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