Ethos: The characteristic or spirit of a culture, era, or community as displayed in its beliefs and in what it hopes in.
Acts 20:17-21: 17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s intro message to the elders at Ephesus was to remind them of how he lived among them and to exhort them to live the same way. But at the heart of Paul’s message we know that behaviors won’t have a lasting change unless the heart has a real transformation by the Gospel. So everything from here on out is encouraged to be pursued as you pursue Jesus in repentance and faith.
How he lived and served the Lord:
1) In all humility: In Eph. 4:1-2 Paul expands on his understanding of “all humility”: – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
A sociologist once shared with me these 2 studies that I thought would be good to share here as I believe they are huge detriments in our character as Christians to hinder us from being truly humble.
The False Consensus Effect – the tendency for humans to over estimate the degree in which everyone agrees with us.
The Self-Serving Biased – the tendency for humans to hold others accountable for their actions while you feel justified in your actions.
When the Gospel is deeply understood (we were far from God and enemies of his, and He sent Jesus to cover this distance between us and chose us to be His son or daughter), it begins to erode these tendency that we have as sinful humans.
With the lack of focus we have had in the area of humility as Christians, it’s no wonder why the joy of our salvation from the wrath of God is so little felt, when humility, the one thing that led Jesus to leave heaven and bring salvation to us, is so weakly pursued, or hardly even sought after.
We must never forget that Jesus lost nothing by giving everything to God. He gave us the ultimate example of what it looks like to love God and be an oak of righteousness.
2) In tears: 2 Cor. 2:4 – For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
This is something that will not take place unless we have understood how to live “in all humility”. Those who are not humble (or pursue humility) do not cry over afflictions and persecutions, hardships and slander….they get angry and shout “INJUSTICE!” and defend their right to be treated fairly.
Those who do not seek to be humble do not pray for those who persecute them, rather they seek revenge. It is the humble who endure the pain of others and weep for the lost.
Many of us never weep unless it is our own flesh or will that is overtaken, then we weep bitterly out of our own pain or loss, but have no empathy for others. We claim the blood of Jesus over our sin and yet we do not care if others are covered and don’t feel others pain.
3) With trials: 2 Cor. 11:23-28 – 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
Are we only to accept blessing and physical protection from God and not sufferings as well? Are we only turning to Christ for provision and protection from harm or suffering? Listen to what Job says in the midst of his suffering: Job 2:10: Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?
Suffering and trials is what God uses to discipline and/or strengthen His kids. If we run from them and get angry and God every time they come, we will miss all that He has for us. We must glorify God as we weep through our sufferings and not only worship Him when times are good. Even the pagans worship God when times are good. Suffering separates true faith and makes Jesus look beautiful when believers can cry out with tears and say. “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
4) Teaching and declaring all that was profitable: 2 Tim. 3:16-17 – 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
We cannot teach what we do not know or do not believe. Who is tis Jesus you speak of? What is His good news? How can it apply to me, today, over 2000 years later? Why should I receive this good news? Where is this found in the Bible? These are all questions as Christians that we should know and be able to speak about this in mid conversation with anyone at anytime.
Matthew 28:19-20: 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Okay, let’s keep moving. There are 2 main aspects of the Gospel that we should know and that should have taken place in our lives if we indeed are believers that are found in v. 21:
What was it that he declared and taught that was so profitable:
1) Repentance toward God: Acts 3:19-20 – 19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,
2 Cor. 7:10 – For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
We must not confuse godly repentance with worldly grief. Worldly grief is only feeling sorry because you got caught, or because you know it’s the right thing to do or someone has pressured you to repent. We must not confuse this broken heart for a heart that is grieving because the Holy Spirit convicted them and is leading them to faith in Jesus.
2) Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ: Repentance is a turning from something and then placing your faith in something else. So godly grief or godly repentance not only confesses sin and turns from it, but it then places it’s faith in the one whom can forgive sins, and eternally secure your salvation.
Rom. 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Eph. 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith.
Repentance and faith in Jesus is the very thing that allows us to be able to live in all humility, in tears and with trials that glorify God. This is how you are to live, you can’t do it, but Jesus can! This is why we repent and place our faith in Jesus. He can do it, we can’t!
So why is humility and tears and trials the way of God?
Why must those who follow Jesus live life through the lens of humility? Why not confidence? Toughness? Bravery? Victory? Paul answers this question in 1 Cor. 1:26-31:
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Did you catch that in verse 29? Paul says this is God’s predetermined way to operate so that we will not boast in ourselves, but in God. When we are empowered to do only what God can do, then He gets the glory. To be brought low and be overjoyed is truly a move of God. This is the point. Let’s look at one more passage at then end of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.
2 Cor. 12:7-10: 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God made Paul weak by:
-inflicting him with illness (his whole life)
-bringing criticism/insults upon him (his whole life)
-sufferings/hardships/tribulations (his whole life)
-humiliation (Paul being let down in a basket to escape)
-allowing sin to wound him (I do what I don’t want to do, I don’t do what I want to do)
God uses these things liberally to those whom He uses most powerfully. Paul says, “For the sake of Christ I am content with weaknesses.” This is the glorious, sanctifying, great exchange. Power through weakness! This is the mantra of God’s kingdom. If we want to be used by Christ, we must be ready to be weakened by Him as well so that we may become strong!
Let’s close with Matthew 11:25-30: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The yoke of subjection to Jesus. Jesus’ willingness to empty Himself completely to His Father’s will was the source of His unimaginable peace and rest that His soul possessed even during the most severe tribulations… He is inviting us to to learn from Him, follow Him, and telling us that we have assurance of that same experience if we abide in Him (give up our yoke). This is the gracious shepherding Savior that we need when we are brought low, tested, under much affliction, and tormented. We cannot handle what He gives us but we also need what He gives us. So we run to Jesus. He is our filter. He is our provider. He takes what we can’t handle, and then gives it to us at a level that we can handle. Our glorious savoir! The wonderful Gospel! It’s so much greater than we will ever know.
Humble yourself and submit to Christ Jesus. Repent of your sin so that your sins may be forgiven and that times of refreshment will come. Place your faith in Christ alone, as He is the only one who can forgive sins and redeem you soul. This is our God!