“Clean From the Blood of All Men”
16. Like Paul, what attitude should we show toward sacred service?
16 However, let us turn again to the first century. Some seven years have passed since Paul and Barnabas heard James announce the prohibition on idolatry, blood, and fornication. During that time Paul has made two missionary trips through Asia Minor and on into Eastern Europe. Now, on his return through Miletus, he is able to talk with the Ephesian elders, who come down to meet him there. He reminds them that he has not spared himself among them in “slaving for the Lord with the greatest lowliness of mind and tears and trials.” Are we today as self-sacrificing in giving of our all in Jehovah’s service? We should be.—Acts 20:17-19.
17. Like Paul, how should we perform our service?
17 How had Paul performed that service? He witnessed wherever he found people, principally at their homes, and without regard to their religious background. He had not held back from instructing those elders, and no doubt they had accompanied him as he taught “publicly and from house to house.” They had not been the only ones to benefit from Paul’s zealous ministry, for he had ‘thoroughly borne witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus.’ Note that word “thoroughly.” Are we today thorough in seeing that all kinds of people, all ethnic groups, receive the witness?—Acts 20:20, 21; Revelation 14:6, 7.
18. (a) Like Paul, how should we involve our soul in God’s service? (b) Like Paul, how should we proceed in the face of increasing pressures?
18 The word “thorough” appears also in Paul’s next statement: “I do not make my soul of any account as dear to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received of the Lord Jesus, to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.” (Acts 20:24) There would be no value to his soul, or life, if he did not thus fulfill his ministry. Do we feel that way about our ministry? As these last days run toward completion, and as stresses, persecutions, sicknesses, or advancing years bear in on us, do we still display a spirit like Paul’s in searching thoroughly for “deserving” households?—Matthew 10:12, 13; 2 Timothy 2:3, 4; 4:5, 7.
19. Why could Paul say, “I am clean from the blood of all men”?
19 Paul did not expect to see those Ephesian elders again. However, with full confidence he could say to them: “I call you to witness this very day that I am clean from the blood of all men.” How so? Paul had not shed blood in warfare. He had not eaten blood. But he had been most interested in the lives of others, as represented by their blood. He did not want to see them lose their lives in God’s Day of Judgment because of his failure to give a thorough witness.