That sounds like a morbid question, but it is one way to gauge how we lived and for what. Wherever Paul was, he invested his life in relationships.
We’ll continue a few verses later in Acts 20:31. This is in Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian elders.
Acts 20:31 – Acts 21:1 – 31So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32″Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” 36When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. 1After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara.
This is a very touching scene. Paul and Ephesian elders had to be TORN apart. How did Paul develop this kind of relationship with the Ephesian elders? It says in v31, So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
Day and night with tears. Paul had no concept of privacy or taking a rest or doing ministry during the day and going home to recharge. Self-care was not in his vocabulary. He was constantly pouring out his life, day and night with tears, non-stop for 3 years.
This is a challenge for every Bible teacher or minister. Am I pouring out my life for others? Am I holding back?
Why would anyone live this way? If this life is all there is, then it is utter folly. But if God exists and there is such a thing as eternity, then we ought to invest in eternal things — God and people.
I have been to quite a few funerals and they have a time during the service where a member of the family lists out various biographical tidbits like where the deceased was born and where they went to school followed by milestones and achievements. And many times, you have a very small handful where a close family member, a spouse or a child is tearful. And if you live for degrees and money and other temporal things, you will get the same kind of funeral where few tears are shed.
But from seeing Apostle Paul, we see a man who lived to make an eternal impact on as many people as he could. Paul is not even dead and he ministered to them only for 3 years and still the Ephesian elders are weeping as if Paul has died. That is the impact he made in a relatively short amount of time. Think of how many people would have wept at Paul’s funeral.
How many people will weep for you at your funeral? Live in such a way that many will weep at your departure from this life.