Today’s Reading: Acts 21:1-17 (additional reading: Psalm 149:1-9 & Proverbs 18:8)

“Norma Bombeck writes the following about advice;

  • 1. Never have more children than you have car windows.
  • 2. Never loan your car to someone to whom you have given birth.
  • 3. Pick your friends carefully. A “friend” never goes on a diet when you are fat or tells you how lucky you are to have a husband who remembers Mother’s Day–when his gift is a smoke alarm.
  • 4. Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
  • 5. Know the difference between success and fame. Success is Mother Teresa. Fame is Madonna.
  • 6. Never be in a hurry to terminate a marriage. Remember, you may need this man or woman someday to finish a sentence.

In our text Paul is given advice on two different occasions by people who had a considerable influence in his life. These were people who cared deeply about Paul and did not want to see him suffer therefore they urged him not to go to Jerusalem.

Not everyone agrees on how to interpret Acts 21. Some see this as an example of Paul’s bravery while others see this as a grave mistake on the part of the apostle, arguing that Paul went against the Holy Spirit’s clear directions not to go to Jerusalem. Paul was of course human and made mistakes but I do not see this as a mistake on the part of Paul.

Paul had just experienced a heartrending farewell with the Ephesian elders. This experience was intensified by Paul’s statements to them that they would never see his face again (20:38). The Holy Spirit had previously revealed to Paul that the road ahead held “chains and tribulations.” (20:23). Knowing that danger lay ahead, he trusted in God and did not fear the consequences.

Some times good people can give you bad advice. The Holy Spirit had revealed that Paul would undergo suffering for Christ. The Holy Spirit did not tell them to inform Paul not to go to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit predicted persecution for the apostle and their love for him caused them to beg him not to go.

Christian’s today are just as inclined to give advice today as they were in Paul’s day. Unfortunately often the advice which is given today is well-intentioned, but wrong. We cannot avoid the sad fact of life that even some Christians will not understand the path we are taking when we follow the Lord. Nevertheless press on toward the goal, seek God and do His will.

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