Bible Verse: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11:1-40

There are many examples of lifelong service in the history of the Christian church.

Polycarp (70-155), was the Bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor. He is noted for his martyrdom. During his time, tensions had risen between the Christians and those who venerated Caesar. One day, Polycarp was captured and was asked to worship Caesar and denounce Christ. He refused and gave his most famous response: “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he hath done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?” The proconsul replied, “I have wild beasts; if thou repent not, I will throw thee to them.” To which Polycarp replied, “Send for them. For repentance from better to worse is not a change permitted to us; but to change from cruelty to righteousness is a noble thing.” He was burned on the pyre, having served God till his death.

Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was the founder of the Franciscan Orders. Established in 1209, the Franciscans consisted of men and women who were leaders of the church reform movements of the early 13th century. From Italy, they spread rapidly over all of Europe and became the most numerous of all the orders. Francis’ fraternal charity, consecration to poverty, and dynamic leadership drew thousands of followers and made him one of the most respected religious figures of his time. Although he was in constant pain and almost totally blind two years before the end of his short life, he continued to serve God. Even though Francis only lived to the relatively young age of 45, he spent his life serving God till his death.

Robert Alexander Jaffray (1873-1945) was a man of great vision and faith, and a man who loved the lost, especially the Chinese. He was used mightily by God and accomplished great deeds, even with poor health. He was a man of prayer and had a very close fellowship with God. He spent 35 years of his life in China and continued to serve the Lord in Indo-China for another 15 years until he died in a Japanese prison camp at the age of 72. A.W. Tozer remarks, “His entire life had been lived for others. He had spent his years searching for the poor of the earth, for the oppressed and enslaved, crying to their oppressors, ‘Let my people go!’”

These members of the “great cloud of witnesses” are examples of lifelong serving and finishing well.

— Gerald K. Chan in Serving in the Golden Years: The Tribe of Caleb
© 2016 by Gerald K Chan. Used by permission.


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