Thursday, August 23, 2012
Stirred to Action
During his second missionary journey, the apostle Paul found it necessary to flee from Berea to Athens for his personal safety. After arriving, he sent word for Silas and Timothy, his coworkers, to make the 200 mile journey to join him. Paul's actions during this time of waiting are a challenge to me.
1. Paul's attention Acts 17:16b "...when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry."
- While waiting for his coworkers to join him, Paul could have just taken the opportunity to rest. It may have even started out that way. However, as Paul went about Athens, the city's overwhelming idolatry made an impression on his mind. He was not so absorbed in his own world that he could not notice what was happening around him.
2. Paul's agitation Acts 17:16a "...his spirit was stirred in him..."
- In Lamentations, Jeremiah said, "Mine eye affecteth mine heart." The same thing happened to Paul in Athens. The things that passed before his eyes found lodging in his heart. His spirit was stirred within him. It was not stirred because of the economic, political, or physical problems he might have seen. It was stirred because of the spiritual condition of the Athenians.
3. Paul's action Acts 17:17 "Therefore disputed he..."
- Based on what he had seen and the affect it had had on his heart, Paul acted. The word dispute means "to speak to someone in order to convince." Simply put, Paul began witnessing to people in Athens. He challenged the idolatrous beliefs with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He did this:
1) In the synagogue- a particularly religious setting
2) In the market- not necessarily a religious setting
This began a chain of events of which we see the results later in the chapter:
1) Some mocked vs. 32
2) Some desired to hear again vs. 32
3) Some believed vs. 34
The end of the story is that some people trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation. I firmly believe this would not have happened had Paul not acted, which, of course, was a result of him being agitated, which, of course, was a result of him being attentive.
Every believer needs to consider these three areas in his life. Am I alert to the spiritual condition of people around me? If I do see spiritual needs, do I put them out of my mind (like the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan) or do I allow them to affect me (like the Good Samaritan)? If I get to the point of being stirred, do I act upon it? Without action, being stirred does no good for the one in spiritual need.
We all have room for improvement in each of these areas. Which one is the Lord specifically addressing in your heart?