In Acts 21, the Christians are not thrilled about Paul going to Jerusalem. He’s already once put off going there because of a Jewish plot to kill him. And not much has changed since then. Then God speaks through prophets to say that when Paul gets to Jerusalem he will suffer. This caused Paul’s brothers and sisters in Christ to beg him all the more not to go.
But for Paul, it wasn’t an option because he believed that God has told him to go. Earlier he had told the Ephesians elders, “behold, I am going to Jerusalem constrained by the Spirit” (Acts 20:22). So, it is not surprising when the believers try to convince him not to go, Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Paul was not willing to hold anything back in service to his Lord. He said whatever it requires, I will do. Even if it means I’m to die, then I’ll still go if it means being faithful to God and his will for my life. This is why when you get to Romans 12 and read what he writes to the Christians there, it is all the more powerful – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – living, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship” (12:1).
That’s the kind of life that Paul lived; a life that held nothing back in his pursuit of living the will of God. In living a life of worship to God – the God who saved him from his sins through the death of his own Son, Jesus Christ.
Reflecting on this has forced me to think about what I’m holding back in serving God? I’m say I’m pursuing God’s will for my life, but am I keeping some part of my life hidden away for myself, not willing to give it over to God? I think we do this more often than we realize.
Sometimes we do it with our children. “God, I will do anything you want, unless it causes difficulty for my children. I love my kids, I want to keep a good relationship with them. That’s important right?” Sometimes we do it with our money. “God, I will so anything you want as long it doesn’t cost me much financially. After all, I need to pay my bills, and I need both cars, and I need this big house. Other people have more money to spare then me God, they can give.”
We could go on, but the important thing I have to ask myself is ‘what am I holding back?’ I pray that God will continue to work in my heart that I will be able to be like Paul and say, “For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die . . . for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
[Edit: I cleaned up the post a little if you saw it before! ;-)]