RISE and RISK

GERONIMO! — Part 3
(The Friendship of Paul, Priscilla and Aquila)

Here’s the fourth, “GERONIMO!” principle from the relational life of Priscilla, Aquila and Paul. It’s the principle that inspired the title.

PRINCIPLE #4: Friends RISK love and life to help you RISE in your CHARACTER, CAPABILITIES and CALLING.

“Geronimo!” Jump in!

The friendship of Paul, Priscilla and Aquila lasted almost two decades. It appears to have been one of the most important relationships in Paul’s life. In fact, he describes it like this in Romans 16:

Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches. Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home. —Romans 16:3-4 NLT

The Message translation reads, “They once put their lives on the line for me…”

The ESV reads, “…[they] risked their necks for my life…”

Bishop Handley Moule translates this passage, “For my life’s sake Priscilla and Aquila submitted their own throats to the knife.”

Don’t miss that! Paul writes that his friends, Priscilla and Aquila, “risked their necks for my life.” Or, “for my life’s sake [they] submitted their own throats to the blade.”

The book of Acts doesn’t tell us exactly when or what Priscilla and Aquila did. We don’t know what their act of courage and bravery was? But we do know that it marked Paul’s life.

Did they smuggle Paul out of Ephesus when things turned violent?

Did they publicly defend him when a riot broke out in the city?

Did they finance the next leg of his missionary journey when he had to go on the run?

The details aren’t provided. Paul simply says, “They risked everything. Everything. They even submitted their own throats to the knife… And, I’m thankful… So are all the Gentile churches…”

Risk and reward go hand in hand when it comes to financial investments. Any investment — whether it’s stocks, bonds, mutual funds or real estate, always comes with certain risks attached. But it also comes with the potential for return. Sometimes a significant return. In fact, in the minds of some investors, “the higher the risk, the higher the potential return.” The key word is “potential.” But, pardon the pun, that’s a very risky approach to risk.

Every relationship involves risks and the potential for reward, as well. The risk of your time, energy, heart, emotion, passion, money, comfort, convenience, other relationships, betrayal, rejection, and a piece of your life.

But the rewards far outweigh the risks. What are they? Here are just a few: Acceptance (Rom 15:7), emotional support (Gal 6:2), strength (Ecc 4:9-12), encouragement, practical help (Acts 2:42-47), accountability (Prov 27:5-6, 17), prayer (James 5:16), inspiration (Heb 10:24), the development of Christ-like character (1 Cor 15:33; Heb 10:24-25), wisdom (Prov 13:20), happiness, fun and fulfillment (Prov 18:24; 17:17) are just few!

When Priscilla and Aquila weighed the risk involved in being the kind of friend who would stand by, with and for Paul, regardless, they believed that the risk was worth it. So, according to Paul in Romans 16, they went all in! “…they put their lives on the line for for me…”

Do you have a friend like that?

Are you a friend like that?

What are you willing to risk for the people in your relational world?

Are you ready and willing to make a conscious, calculated kingdom “bet” (in the words of Jon Tyson) on the people in your relational world so that they can become all that God has called them to become? So that they can rise in their character, capabilities and calling?

Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote:

“If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Priscilla and Aquila had evidently “discovered something they were willing to die for” and that made them “fit to live.” Their life revolved around the mission of Jesus and the deep connections and friendships in community they experienced with people, including Paul, in the first century church.

Interestingly enough, children are never mentioned in connection with Priscilla and Aquila. Does that mean they were childless? We’re not certain. It is a possibility. This would have been tragic in the first century.

But instead of getting stuck in the grief of what they didn’t have, they chose to invest in the relationships they did have. Perhaps they made a decision, “If we can’t pour our lives into our own kids, we’ll pour our lives into the people God has placed around us.”

For instance, while they were in Ephesus, they got word of a gifted young leader named Apollos who was crazy about Jesus but lacking in his theology. Evidently, Apollos had lots of excitement and some extraordinary oratory gifts, but there were gaps in his theology.

I love Priscilla and Aquila’s response. They didn’t sit back and criticize this young leader. They did the opposite. They invited him to their home. They championed his gifts and began a process of mentoring with him that allowed him to leverage his significant gifts and become all that God called him to be (See Acts 18:24-26).

They shared with Apollos the details of the birth, life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and victory of Jesus!

They told him about his sacrificial death — how He died for our sins, in our place, as our substitute. They taught him about the fact that on the cross Jesus took upon Himself not only our sin, but the sin of the world, so we could receive His righteousness. They shared with him the reality of Jesus’ victorious resurrection — that because He lives, we live!

They taught about the miracle of what happened at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to live in us and thru us! They shared with him the mind-blowing reality that because of Jesus, God is not only for us, but God Himself is in us!

They downloaded all the great doctrines of Scripture into this young leader, until this guy was so soaked in Scripture that when you squeezed him what came out was God’s Word and the beauty of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, their investment paid off.

At the end of Acts 18, Apollos felt a leading to share the gospel in Achaia. Priscilla and Aquila, along with the entire church in Ephesus cheered him on and said, “You bet! Absolutely! Go get it, bro.”

And I love the snapshot Luke provides of the impact of his ministry. Luke writes:

“When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. 28 He was particularly effective in public debate with the Jews as he brought out proof after convincing proof from the Scriptures that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah.” —Acts 18:27-28 NLT / MSG

What happened to Apollos between verse 26 and 28?

Two friends named Priscilla and Aquila were willing to risk life and love to help a young man rise in his character, capabilities and calling!

BOOM!

This is so challenging!

Most of us, including myself, will never be exceptionally gifted teachers, preachers, prophets, apostles or evangelists, but all of us can become students of God’s Word like Priscilla and Aquila. All of us can so saturate ourselves with God’s Word that whenever we’re squeezed the only thing that comes out is Jesus. All of us can open our hearts and homes to those who need to know more… To those who want to know more…

Priscilla and Aquila seemed to have been gifted in hospitality, pastoring, discipleship and mentoring.

They were willing to risk love and life to help a single, an incredibly educated man like Paul rise in his character, capabilities and calling. They did the same thing for Apollos. On top of that, they opened up their homes to dozens of Christians who regularly met in the home church they led. Adding value to and investing in people was their way of life.

Who are you investing in?

Who are you risking love and life for?

More than 30 years ago, a friend at the first church I ever had the privilege of serving, walked into my office and handed me a little book by Billy Sprague.

It describes the kind of friendship Priscilla and Aquila provided to Paul. It describes the kind of friend we all need.

A Friend Should Be Drastic, Gymnastic,
But Most Of All Elastic
Billy Sprague

A friend should be drastic…
            [She] should go over the edge when you’re in a pinch
            Stand firm when you’re wrong and not budge and inch
            And carry your burden with barely a flinch.
And a friend should be gymnastic
            [He] should muscle you up when you stumble
            Balance the facts when you grumble
            And flip into praise when you’re humble
But most of all, a friend should be elastic
            [He] should expand your horizons
            Stretch your imagination
            Tighten your morals
            But loosen limitations
[She] should snap back to your side when the world turns mean
            And bend over backwards to believe in your dreams

That’s the kind of friend Priscilla and Aquila were to Paul and Apollos.

It’s the kind of friend I long to be. It’s the kind friend we all need.

Once again, here are four “Geronimo!” principles from the relational life of Priscilla and Aquila:

PRINCIPLE #1: Marriage is about FRIENDSHIP. It may be more, but it can’t be less.

PRINCIPLE #2: Friends BUILD BRIDGES and refuse to create BARRIERS.

PRINCIPLE #3: Friends HONOR DIFFERENCES, CELEBRATE STRENGTHS and SERVE ONE ANOTHER in LOVE.

PRINCIPLE #4: Friends RISK love and life to help you RISE in your CHARACTER, CAPABILITIES and CALLING.

ACTIVATION: Who are you risking love and life to help rise in their character, capabilities and calling? What risk-filled steps of faith can you take to help someone else rise this week?

ACTIVATION: Are you cultivating a rich relational world filled with people who are “different” than you? Married? Single? Different Ethnicities? Different Cultures? Different social classes? Different Perspectives? Who are you building bridges with that is different than you? Who can you build bridges with?

ACTIVATION: Who is God inviting you to extend hospitality to? How can you turn your home — your kitchen table and living room — into a ministry center for hospitality, mentoring and discipleship? Have you made a decision to join Small Group?

ACTIVATION: Do you regularly honor differences, celebrate strengths and serve others in love? What proactive steps can you take this week to do all three in the three most important relationships in your life?

Published by Chris Goins

My name is Chris Goins. I live in Birmingham, AL where I serve as the Lead Pastor of A2 Church + a certified John Maxwell Speaker + Coach. Welcome to my blog - a collection of ideas, quotes, insights, message notes + dynamic content intended to motivate you to reach your God-given potential + live a life of freedom and significance.

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