It never ceases to amaze me how I can read a passage of scripture over and over and still learn something new.
I’m going through the book of Acts in my personal study, and something unexpected happened when I got to chapter 17. Paul was waiting for Timothy and Silas to meet him in Athens. It was a cultural and religious center of Greece, full of philosophers, and my study notes say that one could go there to worship every “deity” known to man.
Verse 16 says, “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.” As I turned the page, I was met with this, “So,” (verse 17), and I had to stop.
So is a therefore. Because.
Because his soul was provoked, then . . .
“he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.”
Philosophers were having conversations with him. He proclaimed the living God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There were some who did not believe, but some were saved.
Paul was there to wait; it was a rendezvous. But when he saw the idols everywhere his spirit was provoked. He was provoked to kindness–seeing their need, he was provoked to goodness–knowing that he had what they needed, and he acted for their welfare. He was compelled to share the gospel, and he didn’t share with just one person. This passage says he was out there talking with the people every day while he waited for his friends.
This hit me so hard that it took my breath away.
I read that a local man has been arrested for “throwing his 5 week old daughter like a basketball.” She died from severe head injuries. I thought I was going to throw up at the realization that someone would actual behave in this manner. I felt loss even though I’ve never met this precious baby. Righteous anger rose up in me.
“What’s wrong with people?” I cried to my husband! It used to be a rare and shocking thing to read about murder and desperate violence in the local news. It happened other places, but not in my town. Not here… but in these times it is becoming more common.
It should never be common. What’s wrong with people? Just like the people of Athens, many of my neighbors don’t know Jesus. They have never experienced unconditional love. Their compass is broken. They are the helpless and the needy; they hurt, but they don’t know why.
A sob swelled up in me as I realized the significance of verse 17. It is compassion that should provoke me.
The Holy Spirit nudges me. What’s your “so”? What will you therefore be?
I can plant seeds. My responsibility is to share the gospel. It’s God’s job to send the rain and provide the harvest. He says he will.
Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in.” Galatians 6:9