I Resolved in the Spirit

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Personal resolve in action and behavior is not always easy, especially when others throw obstacles in our way. A story in Acts 19 of the New Testament illustrates personal resolve that was almost derailed.

Acts 19 depicts Paul in the city of Ephesus where, after two years of successful ministry, he “resolved in the Spirit to go through Macedonia and Achaia, and then go to Jerusalem” (Acts 19:21 RSV).

Meanwhile, a silversmith named Demetrius owns a lucrative business making and selling miniature models of the temple of Artemis of Ephesus. He calls fellow artisans together and says, “Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. You also see [that] this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods” (26b). Demetrius argues that such teaching poses a threat to business. He fires up his audience’s patriotic passions by warning that “the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all the world to worship her” (27b). The artisans grow enraged and spill out into the city, shouting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.” Soon the whole city is in confusion, a mob forms and pours into the city theater. Most of the people gathered don’t even know why they are there; near-chaos reigns.

Now comes another resolution: conflict resolution. Paul wants to try, but his disciples and some friendly city officials hold him back. He might make matters worse, probably endanger himself. As it turns out, Paul’s intervention is unnecessary. The city clerk calms the crowd, persuading them that the renown of the great temple of Artemis is intact, that Paul and his disciples have done nothing wrong, and that the artisans have the courts if they have a complaint. He also reminds the crowd that they could be charged with rioting, which the Roman government does not treat lightly.

Most of us identify with both Paul and Demetrius. We too want to go where or do what the Christ asks. But we must make a living, and for some of us that means running a business. What happens when a business person’s Christian values conflict with business demands? Profits, the competitive edge, happy investors, and employees can all be harsh taskmasters. Paul and Demetrius represent our inner conflict. The story in Acts 19 illustrates for us, however, that when we resolve to follow Christ in the Spirit, we can trust God for help. Just what got into that city clerk anyway to face down and placate an angry mob, appease the silversmiths, and defend Paul and his disciples? The Spirit perhaps?