Scripture Reading: Acts 17:16-21
“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.” (Acts 17:16,17)
From Berea Paul traveled to Athens while Silas and Timothy remained in Berea until Paul summoned them to join him (v. 15). Athens was the foremost Greek city of that era. It was known for its literature and art. It was also the empire’s intellectual metropolis.
Athens was a city full of magnificent buildings, statues and monuments. The sculptures, buildings and temples were fashioned out of gold, silver, ivory and marble. The Acropolis, which was elevated enough to be seen from miles around, has been described as one vast composition of architecture and sculpture, dedicated to the national glory and to the worship of the gods. Athens was an exceedingly impressive and beautiful city.
Paul, however, was not impressed by the beauty of the city. He saw through the eyes of God and what he saw deeply troubled him: “His spirit was provoked within him.” His spirit troubled him because he saw a city full of idols and lost people. There were innumerable temples, shrines and altars. Xenephon, referred to Athens as “one great altar, one great sacrifice.” He said there were more gods in Athens than the rest of the country. Paul saw a city submerged in its idols and his spirit was provoked.
This is the reaction we should have when we see our God being blasphemed and being mocked. The word “provoked” means to be irritated, to rouse in anger, to be greatly distressed. Paul’s reaction was due to his abhorrence of idolatry. People were giving to idols the honor and glory that God alone deserved.
I find myself being so conditioned to the self-centered, idolatrous culture I live in. I do not get upset enough when I see and hear my precious Jesus being mocked and ignored. I am afraid that too often I do not see things through the eyes of God.
Lord Jesus, I confess that I have lost my spiritual sensitivity to the evil around me. I am not provoked in spirit as I know I should be. Let me see things through Your eyes and let my spirit be provoked when I see You being dishonored.
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