Make an Eternal Difference
In the 1940s Vladimir Nabokov, a Russian-born novelist, was collecting butterflies and moths while staying with James Laughlin in Utah. He told James that while he was chasing a butterfly, he heard someone groaning near Bear Gulch. He didn’t check it out. He had to get the butterfly. The next day the body of an old prospector was discovered in the gulch. Are you chasing the butterflies of self-interest while people around you are perishing? Many Christians do. Paul didn’t. Acts 17 describes his approach.
To make an eternal difference, you must talk about Jesus. Paul preached in Thessalonica on three successive Sabbaths. He explained how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament Scriptures. He talked about Jesus to all who would listen (See 1 Corinthians 2:1–2). Jesus filled his thoughts and his speech.
To talk about Jesus like Paul, you have to think about Jesus like Paul. He thought about all he was in Christ. It filled him with gratitude. Jesus said, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34, NIV). If you aren’t talking about Jesus, something else is thriving in your heart. Something else is occupying the supreme place rightfully belonging to Him.
To make an eternal difference for Jesus, expect results. When I was young, I sold homegrown strawberries door-to-door for 50 cents a quart. I never said to a customer, “You don’t want to buy any homegrown strawberries, do you?” I expected them to buy. Most did.
Paul encountered opposition to the gospel in Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens. But he didn’t quit. He expected results in each new city. He was willing to sacrifice himself to win more people to Christ. But he fully expected to win some (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). He expected to make an eternal difference for Christ. Do you?
To make an eternal difference, you must endure opposition. People opposed Paul in every city where he preached the gospel. He saw much fruit in Thessalonica (verse 4) and experienced much opposition (verses 5–7). In Berea many believed (verse 12) and many resisted (verse 13). In Athens Paul’s message was rejected. He was denied permission to continue preaching. He didn’t give up.
Paul’s secret was his single-minded agenda for life. Earthly power, fame, and wealth weren’t his goals. Only pleasing God and accomplishing His will mattered. Bonds and afflictions didn’t stop him.
He wrote, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24, NIV). You make an eternal difference for Jesus best when that’s your primary focus.
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