"There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law."
Thoughts for Today:The problem had been previously been presented: "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. " Then comes the proposed solution (more of an order, really): "Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved." In other words, "Open your personal checkbook and pay for these guys 'purification' expenses... and by the way, get your own head shaved too." That's a pretty tall order.
Paul clearly had some issues with taking the Law too literally. He wrote about this in Romans 7:4-6, "So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ... by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." Concluding in verse 14, "We know that the law is spiritual..." Paul wrote that Mosaic Law was spiritual -- not literal -- yet here he is being asked to comply with one of its more physical requirements as some kind of evidence that he is "living in obedience to the law." Do you think he wanted to comply? Would he have been hypocritical if he did? By doing so what message would he be sending to Jewish as well as Gentile believers regarding the Law? What would you do?
Questions to Ponder:I think this is one of the more difficult challenges in Christian living: Determining what liberty is given to us in Christ versus living under a set of self-imposed (or in some cases outside imposed) rules? What rules do you observe? Do you ever feel guilty if you break one? Does the observance of a rule bring you closer to God or simply make you "feel" more holy? We all have established certain rules for the way we live, believe, worship, pray, or study. Is there a way to make your rules more spiritual and less mechanical? How can you more clearly discern those rules which are God's rules and those which are our rules?