The total I have spent
to be allowed to preach wherever I went
is very great indeed: I’d say no less
than what a man would have to pay to bless
some fifteen slaves with freedom. This was done
so that the Kingdom work we had begun
among you might continue. I have no
regret in this, and still am doing so
unto this day. I still will spend that I
may do this work until the day I die.
That men may know the Savior Who controls
the world, I’ll spend myself to save their souls.
- Patrick, Confession
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.
- 2 Corinthians 12.15
We recall that Patrick wrote his Confession as a defense of his ministry and to explain to ecclesiastical authorities in Britain why he would not be able to accept their call for him to return and answer some bogus charges.
In this section we find Patrick perhaps seeking to fend off what might have been another criticism, that he was only serving in Ireland for the money. As we have seen, he made it clear that he would not accept any personal gifts. He further insisted that “not so much as half/a penny crossed my palms” in doing the work to which God had called him. He ministered “for free” in every situation, asking no one for money but only for opportunities to serve.
“In fact”, he continued, he spent his own money in doing the work, giving gifts to local chieftains for the right to preach and teach among their people, paying stipends to those who joined with him in ministry, and covering the expenses of his ministry with his own funds—perhaps an inheritance or money he earned doing some manual labor. At one point he was robbed even of what little money he had and taken captive, to be sold again as a slave, only to be freed through the efforts of friends after two weeks.
Patrick reckoned that the total of his own money he had spent on his work “is very great indeed”, as much as would be required to purchase the freedom of fifteen slaves. And he begrudged none of this. He knew when he came to Ireland that he was facing a difficult task and that he would always have a meager living at best. But, like Paul, he was willing to be spent and to spend whatever he had to reach souls for Jesus Christ.
Patrick kept his eyes on the Lord and his calling to the Kingdom and glory of God; and he invested all his strength and resources to fulfill that heavenly calling. The Lord blessed his commitment and all his efforts, as we have seen, using Patrick to lay a solid and widespread foundation for a work of revival that lasted nearly four centuries.
Like Patrick, each of us has a calling from the Lord. We are agents of Kingdom grace, sent into our world for the purpose of making Jesus known and furthering His rule on earth as it is in heaven. We do not accept this call for any personal advantage, but only to serve the Lord and the people to whom He sends us. We are not our own; we have been bought with the price of Jesus’ blood and righteousness. All that we have comes to us as a gift from God—our time, treasure, skills, relationships, roles, and responsibilities. Like the faithful servants in Jesus’ parable of the talents, our calling is to take what God has given us and invest it wisely, working by every means and in every situation to glorify God.
Patrick did not worry about his daily provision. He knew Whom he served, and he was quite confident that God would provide everything he needed through His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. In our own ministries, the work we do in our Personal Mission Field, we should follow Patrick’s example, taking initiatives and looking for ways to spend our energies, resources, and time in bringing the grace of God to others. God will open doors for us and show us what to do if we will push on, press ahead, spend and be spent in an effort to reach others with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
An unfathomable treasury of grace is stored up for us in Jesus. As we spend ourselves in serving others, He meets us with grace sufficient for all our needs. When we feel spent, His grace can renew us. When we spend to minister to the souls of others, He will provide the grace appropriate for each opportunity. We cannot outspend the Lord, for the currency of the Kingdom is grace.
Let us therefore follow the example of Patrick, not hesitating to reach out to serve because we know that, whatever we need, our God will supply it, that we might spend and be spent for the souls of others.
1. What will you need the grace of God for today as you go out into your Personal Mission Field?
2. Whom will you encourage in the work of spending and being spent for the souls of others?
Psalm 23.1-4 (The Gift of Love: Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire)
Because the LORD my Shepherd is I shall not want, for I am His!
He makes me lie in pastures full; I rest in Him by waters still.
My soul He quickens and will bless; He leads in paths of righteousness.
Though I may walk in death’s dark vale, I shall not fear—He will not fail!
Thank You, Lord, for the grace to serve You today. Help me to spend and be spent as I…
T. M. Moore
You can read more about the impact of Patrick’s ministry in our book, The Legacy of Patrick. Here you’ll learn how Patrick’s work has affected generations of Christians down to our own day. Order your copy by clicking here.
Support for Crosfigell comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.
And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.