We should AIM to FINISH our MINISTRY with 'JOY': "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)
In his farewell message to the elders of Ephesus, Apostle Paul reviewed his past ministry (vv. 18–21), shared his present concerns (vv. 22–24), and revealed the impending dangers that awaited the church in Ephesus while he would be gone (vv. 28–31). In the words of the Bible Teacher Warren Wiersbe, as Paul reviewed his ministry in vv. 24–26, he saw himself as an accountant (“I count”), a runner (“I may finish my race”), a steward (“the ministry which I received”), a witness (“to testify”), a herald (“preaching the kingdom”), and a watchman (“innocent of the blood”). What a responsibility it is to be a servant of God!
Even as Apostle Paul was delivering his farewell message, he was convinced that God wanted him to go to Jerusalem even though some brethren equally led by the Holy Spirit had warned him that his imprisonment was imminent in Jerusalem (v. 23). Paul’s evaluation of his personal endangered situation was that none of the threats concerned him any longer (v. 24). Life on earth was no longer a real concern except as it related to the completion of his mission!
As Apostle Paul weighed his future, he did not think that his own life was of any great consideration as his fierce ambition was to obey God and to please Him alone. While fulfilling his ministry if he would be called upon to offer up his very life, he was willing to do so gladly. No sacrifice he could make would be too great for his beloved Lord Jesus who had died for him. All that mattered for Paul was that he finishes his race and completes the ministry which he received from his Lord, which was to fully testify to the gospel of the grace of God!
Thus, Apostle Paul was determined to finish his course of life with joy and to testify the gospel of the grace of God to as many people as possible. This gospel of the grace of God is the thrilling message of God’s undeserved favor to guilty, ungodly sinners who deserve nothing but everlasting hell. This gospel explains how Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, came from heaven’s highest glory to suffer, bleed, and die on Calvary in order that those who believe on Him might receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. By spreading this gospel, Paul sought only the furtherance of God’s kingdom and the honor of Christ, no matter what cost he had to pay!
We should admire Apostle Paul’s absolute dedication to the service of Christ and how well he was prepared for the worst outcome. His goal in life was to multiply the followers of Christ. He would find his mission accomplished when he would be able to finish his ministry with joy even though he faced prison and hardship. When our goal in life is to honor God in everything that we do, then God will guide and guard us during each step of our way.
When we place our hopes and dreams in God’s hands, everything in our journey (both setbacks and successes) will be under His control. Then, and only then, can we finish our ministry with joy, and join with Apostle Paul in declaring the following statement towards the end of our lives: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Tim 4:6-8)