Jump Start # 2586
Acts 18:5 “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.”
Our verse helps us to see the heart, character and mission of Paul. He was devoting himself completely to the word. Today, we’d say he was focused. He had the one central concept before him. Notice how other translations define “devoting himself completely”:
- KJV: pressed in the spirit
- ESV: occupied with the word
- NIV: devoted himself exclusively to preaching
- CEB: devoted himself fully to the word
- ASV: constrained by the word
- Phillips: completely absorbed in preaching the word
These various expressions all point to the same conclusion. Preaching was Paul’s life. That was Paul. That’s what he was about. That’s what he’d want to talk about. That’s what interested him. That was his hobby. That was his joy. That’s who he was. Paul was serious about what he did. There was no mistaking what he was about.
Boy, I love this idea. This is my kind of preacher. With some, you wonder. You wonder if preaching is simply a side job. You wonder if they do as little as they can get by. And, when one is like this, it shows. And, when one is like Paul, it shows.
Now, as we think about this passage we must wonder about ourselves. How hard are we trying? How serious are we? How committed are we? How devoted are we? There is an old expression, “fair weather golfer.” That’s the guy who only golfs in nice weather. Too windy, too cold, too wet, you won’t find the fair weather golfer on the course. But, I’ve known the other type. Even with a little snow on the ground, they are out golfing. They love the sport. Bad weather isn’t keeping them indoors. I wonder if there are “fair weather” Christians? Couldn’t say that of Paul. He was occupied, completely absorbed with preaching the word of God.
It is easy to let the things of this life so fill our time, our days, and our hearts that we become occupied with the world. For instance:
- We have jobs, but have our jobs become our life? Have our jobs become what occupies us and consumes us? For those without Christ, it is common to hear, “This job is your life.” All your energy is poured into the job. Your friends and social relationships are co-workers. Your whole life revolves around your job. That’s how it is for many, many people today. This is why retirement leaves many feeling so empty. They are empty. Their entire life has been work and now they don’t work. They don’t have a life after work. They don’t know what to do. So, they find fellow retirees from the company and they hang out all the time.
- We can become occupied, or even obsessed with the daily news of the world. First thing in the morning, it’s the news. The last thing at night, it’s the news. This occupation with the news can set the tone for my mood and even my attitude. We can be occupied, as the rich farmer in the Lord’s parable was, to the point that his words never reflected God. It was all about self. It was all about the here and now. We can become so occupied with the world that we close our hearts to those who need us, like the rich man did towards Lazarus. Sports can fill our minds and hearts. Money can fill our minds and hearts. Buying stuff can fill our minds and hearts. Occupied with this world is not a good place to be. Someday this world will be no more. We will live on, but not with this world.
- We can become occupied with how we think others feel about us. We can be so worried about what this one said, or, what this one might think. We spend all of our time trying to get people to like us. That’s important when you are occupied with how people may think about you. Social media, how many on-line friends, how many likes I get, so important when one is occupied with how others feel about us.
Paul was occupied with the word. Paul was focused upon the kingdom. Getting folks to Heaven is what he thought about. Helping people spiritually is what we focused upon. That’s what moved Paul’s needle. That’s what made him tick.
And, we must ask, what moves you? What makes you tick? What grabs your attention? What occupies your thoughts and your time? What are you focused on? I remember some guys in high school, that went to great lengths to cheat on tests. One guy wrote answers up and down his arms. Another, took out the insides of a watch and had small paper with the answers on them. He’d wind that watch to scroll to the right answers he was looking for. I thought, ‘why didn’t you just study for the test?’ All the time it took to come up with these ways to cheat, you’d know the answers if you had studied. Their focus was not on learning, but passing. They’d do it any way they could.
Is our focus simply getting to Heaven, or is it pleasing our God every day?
Occupied with the word—what a great thought.
Thanks to my good friend, Kenny, who I got this idea from.