I’m not very sentimental. I think I used to be—I think. Seems like a million years ago. Perhaps the sheer volume of life’s activity has sucked the sentimentality out of me. I think I lost that oozy-goozey-fuzzy-wuzzy feeling when our second daughter was in elementary school. Baby books are filled out completely, but somewhere around Emily’s fourth grade year—WHAM! Oozy-goozey gone. I believe this may be why I have daughters who are polar opposite in sentimentality. Trina, the oldest, keeps candy wrappers, movie tickets, locks of hair—you name it, she keeps it. We recently threw away her baby teeth that had been kept for almost twenty years in a bubble-gum container—eee-gad! Then there’s Emily. We have to force her to keep things like: birth certificate, social security card, etc. When she and her new husband were moving, she sold a few of his old things on Craig’s List while he was at work—like his favorite old recliner! (They had to work out a few contractual details before she was allowed back on the internet.) I used to think this meant Emily didn’t care as much about family memories. I was wrong. I’ve seen that both my girls feel and love deeply in their own ways. Being sentimental is now a question of practicality in our family. Whoever has the biggest house gets to keep the stuff. But holding tightly to earthly things doesn’t always mean we care more about them. It simply means we have more to pry our fingers from if the Lord asks us to let go…
Acts 18:18 – “Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.” (emphasis added)
Appearance—We don’t know what vow Paul took, but perhaps it was in deference to the Nazarite vow mentioned in Num. 6:18. Regardless, Paul outwardly renounced vanity and pride to affirm his inner commitment to the Lord. A humbling outward expression of an inner work is sometimes a good reminder of the foundation of humanity from which we all approach the Cross.
Acts 18:19 – “They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.” (emphasis added)
Testified Alone—Paul relinquished all human crutches. Friends and family are an important source of love and support, but if we rely on their strength more than God’s power, they become idols of worship and can be stumbling blocks. I’m not advocating severing ties with friends and family; however, we must be willing to go and do as God leads, relying solely on His ability to save and provide.
Acts 18:20-21a – “When [those in the synagogue] asked [Paul] to spend more time with them, he declined. But as he left, he promised, ‘I will come back if it is God’s will.’” (emphasis added)
Approval of Men—Imagine the joy Paul felt when finally the Jews in the synagogue accepted his teaching and asked to hear more! If Paul had been a people-pleaser, his self-esteem would have sky-rocketed. But Paul was a God-pleaser, and he realized he must follow God’s plan and continue his journey. Paul traded human approval for godly obedience—and left the door open for future relationships to develop.
Acts 18:21b-23 – “Then he set sail from Ephesus. When he landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.”
Hearth and Home—Paul was a man without a home. In the beginning, he was “Saul of Tarsus;” he was a Jew, and a Roman citizen. But where would Paul have called home? In Phil. 3:20, he says a believer’s citizenship is in heaven—perhaps because this man of God had proven repeatedly his aversion to let any particular location capture his heart. It’s tempting to get comfortable, cozy, settled—isn’t it? Home is where the heart is, right? All the more reason our home—and our hearts—should always be turned heavenward.
Acts 18:24-28 – “Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (emphasis added)
Fruit of Your Labor—Paul began the church in Ephesus, and Aquila and Priscilla continued the work (v.19). What would you do if some “upstart” young preacher came into your church and started preaching false doctrine? Would you silence him? Expel him? Or would you, like Aquila and Priscilla, take him aside and tutor him in godly wisdom? Then, when he decided on a whim to go to another city, would you write a glowing recommendation letter? How selfless are our efforts at church? How tightly do we clutch accomplishments at work? Where do “good stewardship” and selfish ambition collide? Has Christ’s church become our church? Is it a museum of relics to be preserved or an institute for training spiritual champions?
- Lord, I want the things that are dearest to YOUR heart to be dearest to my heart. I don’t want things to matter over people because I know people are Your first priority. But I don’t want people to matter over You because I know I must choose to follow You even if no one else comes along. Give me courage to choose, wisdom to choose rightly, and strength to act on those right choices.