Acts 20: “Unless I…”

Acts 20:24 (NLT) 24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.


While Paul resolutely sets out for Jerusalem, he takes some time to give a final word to the Ephesian elders. His words, which are the result of a three year ministry, are both powerful and personal. There’s a lot that can be learned when you break down just one verse of Paul’s declaration.

If we resonate with Paul’s words, we potentially can see the parallel between the reality of Paul’s life and our own. Paul said, and I agree, my life is worth nothing unless I…

  • Use it
  • Use it for finishing the work assigned me
  • The work of telling others the Good News

Use it

The first reality for Paul is that his life would be worth nothing, unless he used it. Sounds pretty simple, but sometimes it’s a difficult thing to do.

I went to a friends house who was putting a new subfloor in their kitchen, and notice he was fastening each board with a cordless drill instead of using the Quik Drill sitting against the wall. When I asked why he wasn’t using the drill that would cut the job in half, he said it was because it was too difficult. He ended up using it, and doing the job in half the time…after I showed him how. A tool needed, but unused, is useless.

Our life is a tool that God desires to use for his benefit and glory, but we have to be willing to be used, even when it’s difficult.

Use it for Finishing the Work Assigned Me

A man was trying hypnosis to help him quit smoking. His friend asked whether he thought it would work. “Sure,” he said, “it worked the last time I tried it!” Let’s face it: starting well is relatively easy, finishing is the harder part.

The NIV indicates Paul’s language was “finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.” This passage reminds us of the letter that Paul wrote to his brother Timothy towards the end of his journey. 2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 

Like Paul, I desire to constantly learn the path, plan, race, assignment… whatever you want to call it… for following Jesus. I believe the goal of life isn’t the destination, it’s the journey. If you’re careful to seek God along the journey, you’ll never miss the destination.

The Work of Telling Others the Good News

Paul wasn’t confused or short in understanding the work assigned to him. He knew it was telling others the Good News of the Gospel. I think when we’re done reading the New Testament we’ll find Paul to be a person who proved he took series the work Jesus assigned to him.

I believe that we should all, “tell others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God,” but Paul recognized this as his “assignment.” I’m interested in you exploring the difference between your job and your assignment, and maybe for you those are the same thing.

Final Thought

What is the work Jesus assigned you? Think about it; write it down. Now consider this: Your life will be worth nothing if you don’t do that; whatever “that” is.