Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 28 February 19:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Numbers: https://thebibleproject.com/explore/numbers/
Acts 16:3 – “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”
If you want to understand someone and their past, present and future behavior, find out what they really care about most, what truly motivates them. Some have called this ultimate motivator, the true “center” of a person’s life, or “core value” – everyone has one, definitive core value. If you understand someone’s core value, their behavior becomes pretty predictable. If you don’t understand their real core value, their behavior can seem very unpredictable and easily misinterpreted. We often misjudge a person’s actions because we misinterpret the person’s motives, and the Bible says that only God truly knows a person’s heart. (1 Kings 8:39)
Today, we read that Paul circumcised Timothy, which should catch the reader’s attention since in the last chapter, “Paul… had no small dissension and debate with” those who taught salvation required circumcision. (Acts 15:1, 2) The apostles and elders came together with one accord – “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” (Acts 15:11) Yet now Paul is circumcising Timothy, but why? To understand this seemingly inconsistent action and the remainder of Paul’s behavior in Acts 16, we must understand Paul’s core value – “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…. (1 Corinthians 2:2) I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation…. (Romans 15:20) I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” (Romans 1:14, 15) Paul’s sole motivation was to know Christ and to make Him known to as many as possible. He wanted nothing to hinder his ability to spread the Gospel. He desired Timothy to be circumcised, and Timothy (half Jew and half Greek) was willing to be circumcised (quite painful for an adult), so they could preach in the synagogues without distraction.
Paul’s behavior would seem quite strange, perhaps crazy, apart from an understanding of his inspiration and motivation, which rendered his response to every person and situation truly extraordinary. It was Paul’s joy in Christ alone that compelled him to pray and sing hymns to God in while in prison. (Acts 16:25) It was Paul’s earnest desire to spread the Gospel to all that caused him to remain in prison rather than escape when he had the miraculous chance. (Acts 16:27-34) And this same conviction to share the Gospel motivated Paul to demand release from the civil magistrate alone so they too would be forced to see for themselves the power of God. Who would do such things? Only the one who has been crucified with Christ and no longer lives to self but rather as in instrument of Christ who lives in him or her and guides and empowers them. (Galatians 2:20) How does your love for Christ cause you to do what otherwise would be completely unexplainable? Are people amazed by your peace of God, which surpasses all understanding? (Philippians 4:7) How has your ‘crazy’ behavior served as a testimony to others?
2 Corinthians 5:13-21 — For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 Feb 19: Today, consider what your actions reveal about your core value, your center. Pray that God will give you the wholehearted fidelity that would be shockingly evident to all around you through your actions and attitudes, a shining testimony of the glory of God.