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For the Sake of Others

By Travis Taylor
 
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scripture Verses
Acts 16:1-10

“Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra.  And a disciple was there named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was Greek, and he was spoken well of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.  Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they knew that his father was a Greek.  Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.  So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.  They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came to Troas.  A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us”.  When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”


Devotion
Even though I have never been a Boy Scout, I know their motto; it’s “Be Prepared!”   The older I get the more I regret not having the basic wilderness and survival skills that the Boy Scouts provide.  Not to mention, being a youth leader who frequently takes his youth on camping trips, tying knots, starting campfires without matches, and being able to tell what poison ivy looks like are skills that sometimes prove to be invaluable.  Even though I’m qualified to share the gospel on these trips, the truth is that if our tents don’t come with instructions, or if all the firewood we have is wet, youth can be distracted by these little glitches even though they shouldn’t be.  Thank goodness I have several Boy Scouts within the group that are qualified to meet the challenges of their surroundings.  I’m glad they have gone the extra mile to prepare to serve others!

Timothy went the extra-mile to prepare to serve other as well!  Knowing that there would be Jews in the area who would get hung up on his Greek heritage, he bit the bullet so-to-speak, and allowed himself to be circumcised.  Even though circumcision would be extremely painful, had nothing to do with his salvation, and had even been decreed by the Jerusalem Council as unnecessary, he did it anyway, for the benefit of others, to open doors that would otherwise be closed to him.

A few years ago I was having a conversation with a man named Chris about inner-city ministry.  Chris and his family reside in a low-income neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis and run a housing ministry called Rebuilding the Wall in the same neighborhood.

Anyway we were talking about ministry and how many pastors and volunteers often come in and minister to the families of the neighborhood.  Chris commented to me that although he appreciated all the help he could get, ministers that came in from the outside usually had little impact on the residents of the neighborhood.  They may have brought the gospel, but they couldn’t really identify with their surroundings.  What the neighborhood really needed was someone they could relate to, someone willing to live there and share in their sufferings.  This someone ended up being Chris.
Chris and his wife moved out of middle-class suburban life to the lower east-side of Indianapolis to impact and serve the residents of that neighborhood for Christ.  He didn’t have to.  He had nothing to prove and it was not necessary for his salvation.  He did it anyway, prepared to go the extra-mile for the sake of others.


Prayer
Lord, thank you for coming to us.  Thank you for leaving your heavenly kingdom and making your humble dwelling among us.   Help us to take your example and be willing to go the extra-mile for the sake of others.  -Amen