Week of Monday, October 18 ­– Sunday, October 24
No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets. – Man as an Instructor
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. — Acts 18:1-4 ESV
Heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, William Borden grew up in one of the wealthiest families in Chicago. As a high school graduation gift, his parents gave him a trip around the world. On that trip, William became burdened for lost and hurting people and decided to become a missionary. He didn’t wait, though. As a freshman at Yale, William Borden began a small morning prayer group, and by the time he was a senior, 1,000 students attended. William wanted to reach his campus with the gospel of Jesus Christ and often sought out the most hardened students as his personal mission field. His willingness to step into dark and difficult places for the sake of the gospel wasn’t confined to campus, either. William took the gospel to the streets of New Haven and founded the Yale Hope Mission, a halfway house that helped shattered people find restoration in relationship with Christ.
After graduating from Yale, William turned down several high paying jobs, went to seminary at Princeton, and then traveled toward China. On his way, he stopped in Egypt to study Arabic so that he might reach Muslims for Christ, the toughest mission of all. However, he died a short time later, after contracting spinal meningitis. In just 26 short years, William Borden accomplished more for the kingdom of God than most people do their whole lives. Knowing that his death was imminent, it is said that William had written the following words in his Bible: “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”[1] What a testimony!
 You might say that the Apostle Paul had the same kind of attitude and then some. From the heights of academia at the Areopagus in Athens, debating with philosophers in Acts 17, Paul went down to Corinth, which was one of the most base and immoral places on earth. There, he joined a couple named Priscilla and Aquila in the humble occupation of making tents for people who came to this ungodly city to do business, see the Isthmian games, and visit the temple and its 1,000 prostitutes while they were there. That was the lowly context in which Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila engaged the culture for Christ. As an Instructor, Paul reasoned with them in the synagogue and winsomely tried to persuade Jews and Greeks to come to Jesus (v. 4).
 Our tendency in church culture is to hold back from serving as Instructors because of our reservations about relating to people not in our “tribe.” We tend to retreat from uncomfortable conversations, especially when dealing with people who are unsaved, living ungodly lifestyles, but who clearly need Jesus. Yet we risk coming to the end of life with regrets, knowing we should have done things differently. Uncomfortable or simply fearful, few Christians today engage when people offend their moral and spiritual sensibilities. We only tend to engage in relationships and conversations with people who believe and act the same way we do. But this is not the model we find in Scripture.
 Paul didn’t hold back in reserve or retreat from uncomfortable conversations but stepped into every opportunity to instruct people about Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, on mission for the glory of God. At the end of his life, he had no regrets: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7 ESV). Paul, along with many others throughout the pages of Scripture, lived by the same type of “No reserves, no retreats, no regrets” commitment to instructing people in the gospel. Will you?
  • What “tentmaking” opportunities has God provided you to engage unbelievers with the gospel?
  • Can you think of a guy in your orbit of relationships that you have had a tough time talking to about the Lord? Start praying that God would give you the words to say in a gospel conversation.
  • Read Philippians 4:19. What does this mean for you as you step into uncomfortable situations and conversations to live on mission with God to liberate people from sin and Satan?
  • Ask God to help you initiate gospel conversations with people, even when it’s uncomfortable, so that you might have opportunities to winsomely instruct and persuade people about the hope they can have in Jesus.
[1] Howard Culbertson, “William Borden: No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.,” Christian Missions: A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person (Southern Nazarene University), accessed September 15, 2021, http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/regret.htm.