22“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
…32“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20: 22-35)
Many times, Paul uses the analogy of running a race to describe his journey of evangelism among the early Church (see references below). I have mentioned before that running requires discipline and endurance; it is a difficult task that requires preparation. I leave that thread of discussion to, perhaps, be picked up at another date and time. For now, I want to focus on something else in this passage: Paul’s sacrificial, self-denying life. Paul specifically says that he knows he must go to Jerusalem—he is compelled by the Spirit—despite the persecution and death that he faces. Paul walks in constant (and very REAL) communication with the Holy Spirit, so there is no question in his mind of whether or not he should go to Jerusalem (or anywhere else he feels called, for that matter)—he simply goes, and does, as he is compelled by the understanding that he can do nothing other than give—he will give of himself unto death, just as Christ gave himself unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2: 4-7).
I am called to imitate Paul as he imitated Christ—and how does that become a reality?
1. preparation in the Word
2. daily, fervent prayer
3. so that I might see myself as nothing
4. and walk out the understanding that Christ is the maker and redeemer of this world (Colossians 1)
**References in which Paul uses the “race” analogy
Galatians 2:2 & 5:7; Philippians 2:16; I Corinthians 9:24: II Timothy 4:7;
(Also see Hebrews 12:1)