Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you.
Thoughts for Today:Paul had just returned to Jerusalem from an arduous missionary trip. He had brought with him a financial gift he had collected from various churches along the way. These churches had heard of the difficult economic times that had fallen on the believers in Jerusalem, and had given generously to help them. It is interesting that as soon as Paul presented the gift, the leaders of the church presented him with a problem: "What shall we do?" Then, without answering the "we" part of the question, this immediately became an action item for Paul to do: "...so do what we tell you."
When I was growing up I hated report cards. Not because I wasn't a good student, but because I dreaded my father's reaction. No matter how well I did, regardless of the number of A's and high citizenship marks I received, my father's focus always went to the lone B or C or the "Satisfactory" citizenship rating. I always felt defensive. I found myself explaining why I got a B or how I could turn a "Satisfactory" into an "Outstanding" the next time, rather than basking in his praise of what I had accomplished.
Somehow through my relationship with Jesus Christ I have been able to avoid most of the emotional and productivity pitfalls that might have beset me had I not known the Lord. How? Because I constantly remind myself that it is not man's praise I seek, but the Master's acknowledgment of "Well done good and faithful servant." It is from this perspective that I think Paul was able to accept the "...so do what we tell you," response of the leadership in Jerusalem with humility and a spirit of cooperation rather than resentment.
Questions to Ponder:By not responding with resentment, Paul demonstrated great Christian maturity. How mature are you? Do you yearn and seek the praise and acknowledgment of others, or does your confidence rest in the Lord? How would you respond if you had just spent three or four years doing something amazing for the Lord, yet rather than bask in the praise of your peers, you were given something else to do -- right now? How would you feel? How would you react? Can you relate this to any recent experiences? Using Paul's example, how would you change the way you responded?