I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also.
This week I came across a list of excuses written by parents to explain their children’s absence from school. One said, “My son is under a doctor’s care. Please execute him.” Another was, “Please excuse Ray. He has loose vowels.” And my favorite: “Please excuse Roland from P.E. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.” We all come up with excuses to rationalize our actions or inactions. Sometimes our excuses are valid; sometimes they are not.
Paul’s letter to the Romans was one long excuse note, explaining to the Roman Christians why he had not yet visited them. He wanted to visit, but he had been prevented from doing so. He said, “I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far)” (1:13). Beginning with Romans 15:14, Paul gave some final words to the Roman Christians, sharing his desire to visit them and his desire to visit Spain. As Paul discussed his plans, we can see the secret of his effectiveness and discover principles for living a life of significance.
Outside of Jesus Christ, no person in history had a greater impact on the Christian faith than the Apostle Paul. Paul wrote half the books in the New Testament. He was the greatest systematizer and articulator of Christian doctrine who ever lived. Paul explained better than anyone the gospel of Jesus Christ. How do we explain Paul’s effectiveness in life and ministry? It was not in his charisma, his speaking ability, or even his appearance. In 2 Corinthians 10:10, Paul described what people said about him: “They say, ‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.’” An extrabiblical book called “The Acts of Paul and Thecla” describes Paul’s physical appearance: “He saw Paul coming, a man little of stature, thin hair upon the head, crooked in the legs with eyebrows joining and nose somewhat hooked.” Yet this short, balding man with a hooked nose shook the world for Jesus Christ.
Would you, like the Apostle Paul, like to come to the end of your life and say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)? When you close your eyes for the last time on earth and awaken in the presence of Jesus Christ, do you want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? This week, we will learn how to be a person of significance like Paul.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Life Well Spent” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
“The Acts of Paul and Thecla,” quoted in “The Ante-Nicene Fathers,” vol. 8, American version, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., revised and arranged with supplements by A. Cleveland Coxe (New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886), 487.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.