Death By Minnows

Jon Burgess


“I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.” ‭‭Acts ‭20:19-21‬


So many reasons Paul could have quit. The biggest reason to shut down his mission in Ephesus was that he was being persecuted. Paul did not quit. He didn't grow quiet. He didn't soften the message or make it more palatable to the picky people. He had one mission and that was to bring one message to as many possible. This wasn't just a flash-in-the-pan commitment either. Paul was just as dedicated to his mission at the end of his three years in Ephesus as he was on the first day he arrived. He takes this challenge to stay "Mission True" and places it squarely on the shoulders of the church leadership. Paul makes it clear they must guard themselves against the mission drift that can so easily occur when there is a change in leadership. He warns of false teachers coming into the church with half-truths to lure the church away from the mission upon which it was founded. He warned them of how money could take their mind off the mission as well if they weren't careful.


Steve Haas, the Vice President of World Vision had this to say about mission drift in an organization, corporation, church, or soul: "Getting eaten by a whale or nibbled to death by minnows results in the same thing, although one demise is typically more difficult to diagnose." This is what the Apostle Paul was getting with the Ephesian leaders. Mission drift doesn't happen in one fell swoop but just one little bite at a time. As I approach my 43rd birthday I must ask myself if I'm still on mission? Can I stand in front of my family and church and say what Paul said with such confidence: "But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus- the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God." (Acts 20:24)? Have I let busyness bully me into shallow devotions? Have I let people-pleasing push me into toned down challenges from Scripture? Have I let worry work me over so I don't have the energy needed to bring the Gospel with boldness? I don't want to ignore the minnows eating away at my mission. I can see a whale coming a mile away, but it's the minnows, the small distractions that will ultimately steal my witness.


Lord, I thank You for Paul's example in scripture today. I want to be that kind of leader in my home, my church, and this world. I don't want to arrive at the end of my days ashamed of how far I've drifted from mission You called me to. I don't want to trade the long-term success for short-term shortcuts. As I approach yet another birthday may I be even more dedicated to what You've called me to do with the time I've been given.

Devotions for October 24

Job 15
Acts 19,20

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