The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end...
Thoughts for Today:Not long ago one of the godly women in our church (one whom I greatly respect) told me she felt the leadership of the church needed to pray more. She asked of me (as one of the leaders) if I would come to the Prayer Room regularly to demonstrate my support and example to the Prayer Ministry and the congregation at large. I knew from personal experience the leadership of the church spent a lot of time in prayer -- not necessarily always in public. I agreed that perhaps we could work on changing that perception. I assured her that over the next few weeks I would try and stop by the Prayer Room personally to demonstrate my support of her team, all the while wondering how and when I was going find the time to do so. It was then the Lord called to my attention Paul's example from our passage today.
Paul had previously been instructed by the leadership of the Jerusalem church that he needed to follow a Jewish purification rite (with some other men). He was to do this in order to "prove" to both Gentiles and Jews alike that he still observed Mosaic Law -- despite the fact he taught regularly the Law was spiritual not physical. In our passage today Paul has clearly decided to comply with this request: "The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them." Why did Paul give up his personal time, money, and freedom in Christ to observe the Law?
Paul in his own words answers this question in his letter to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians9:19), "Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible." Then in verses 20-21 explains how he does so, "To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law)..." And finally in verses 22, his goal, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." The giving up of personal freedom is a pretty big sacrifice for any of us to make, yet Paul willingly did so. Would I be willing to sacrifice my personal time to "prove" my support for the Prayer Ministry? What would you do?
Questions to Ponder:Paul did not want anything in his personal behavior to violate another's sensitivity and thereby detract or distract from the message of salvation in Christ Jesus. Would you do the same thing in similar circumstances? When was the last time you made yourself "a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible"? Are you reluctant to sacrifice personal freedom? What personal freedom is God asking you to give up in order to be more sensitive to someone else, or to win someone to Christ? Will you do it?