In our reading today, we see Paul arrive in Jerusalem, meet James and the other elders and he is received with a very warm welcome. Paul shares in detail ‘what God had done among the Gentiles’, he is publicly declaring the incredible kingdom breakthroughs he has seen in his ministry and the people’s response is so encouraging! He told his story in such a way that the people weren’t praising him but instead praising God. But then things shift direction.
It seems as though not everyone was impressed with how God was using Paul, and the ministry successes he’d seen. Because Paul’s reputation had been unnecessarily tainted the elders suggest that he go through a cleansing process to truly prove himself a faithful Jew. And Paul’s response is what God challenged me with today.
You see, Paul had every right to ride on his reputation, he had just been sharing all the wonderful things God had been doing through his ministry. Yet we see him willingly submit to the elders and jumping through the purification hoops that were seemingly unnecessary, purely for the sake of not offending any Jewish Christians.
Do you know what I would call that…dying to self.
Romans 12:18 says, “if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” And this is what Paul was doing. He never considered his rights…he didn’t use his credentials…nor did he demand that what was being asked was unfair. He was simply willing to lay it all down if it meant preserving unity in the body. If it meant releasing the tension in the air.
I was challenged today as I began thinking through this idea. Sometimes I can find myself getting worked up over something someone has asked me to do which I deem, “completely unnecessary”. But really…is that serving the other person? Paul’s example challenges us to be humble, to be willing to lay it all down for the sake of others, to die to self for the sake of unity.
So friends, as we go through today let’s be finding ways for saying yes to the things we may not want to do, not for our own glory but so that peace and unity can be shared.