“..Named Demetrius a silversmith….he called them together and said: ‘ Men you know we have our prosperity by this trade…..Paul has persuaded and turned away many people….So not only is this trade of ours in danger…but also the temple of the great goddess, Diana..”  Acts 18:24-26

“Paul stood in the midst….Him I proclaim to you; God who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands…”  Acts 17:22,24

Demetrius was a silversmith.  It appears in Acts that he was a silversmith of some repute in the city of Ephesus where the temple of Diana (or Artemis in Greek)was located,  which was one of the wonders of the ancient world.  Diana was the goddess of everything from wild animals and the hunt to childbirth and fertility.  So there was much to do, not only with the upkeep of the great temple but in making images to sell to those who would made a pilgrimage to see and worship her.

Paul has been traveling and preaching throughout the Greco-Roman world.  He is starting churches and preaching that there is only One God who resides in no image made from man and no temple made by human hands.  Paul has been preaching that salvation does not come from observing certain festivals or rites, but from believing in and belonging to Jesus Christ who is the only true way to the Heavenly Father.  And Paul’s preaching is working.   Thousands of converts are accepting the Word of Jesus Christ.  They are leaving the worship of false gods and worse yet, for craftsmen like Demetrius, they are no longer purchasing the idols and trinkets that he is making.  Demetrius can not take this lying down.  So he makes a spirited defense to stop Paul.  Yet notice carefully how his defense is crafted.  It is not a defense based solely on the merits of Diana worship and faith in the goddess.  No, Demetrius starts with a defense of the people’s livelihoods.  It’s not about following Paul and His God will lead to spiritual destruction.  No, it is following the One True God will lead to personal financial ruin as well as the degradation of the power of their temple and city.  If you want to get their attention, hit em their pocket books, is an old saying.  When the people of Ephesus hear this, many are fearful and they start a riot.  However, that does not deter Paul in the least from continuing his faithful preaching, converting and church building.

So, what does that have to do with us today?  Much, I think.  You see today we are filled with messages about the building and accumulating of wealth.  One can hardly look at any form of media without being bombarded by questions and suggestions about retirement, saving for college, making money from this action or that trade.  Alas, if only it were a secular concern, we might be able to ignore it.  Yet even within institutions of faith, there are messages about giving so that you can receive and claims that if you will give this amount or do this particular thing, then God will multiply your return on that investment untoldfold amounts for your personal prosperity; as if God was some aspect of a really good investment plan.  I’ll stick with God as long as the return is good.

Yet one has to wonder, what if in Ephesus of Demetruis’s time, Paul had asked Demetrius to start making statues of God.  What if those statues had really started to sell to the converts to Christianity.  Would Demetrius had been so quick to come to defense of Diana?  Or, would he have started to proclaim the truth of God and His Son as he hawked the silver wares he was creating because it was good for business; a good return for his investment.

Please don’t misunderstand me sisters and brothers; for Scripture tells us in Timothy that a worker deserves his wages.  I know that many who follow this blog have a vocation in the ministry of the Lord.  And you can tell by their words and deeds that they are first and foremost about serving faithfully the Lord God Almighty and Jesus Christ and not about the financial gain that might come from it.  Many have made significant worldly sacrifices to follow their calling.  Humbly, in writing these notes, there is no copyright, no place or desire for remuneration, those who want to use them in any way are free to do so with only the prayer and hope that it is for the Praise of God Almighty.  Yet this I also know; I am truly, immeasurably blessed by the connection to the Spirit which I feel in this writing which is so much more valuable than any financial return.  No this is about faith, belief and action in God for who He is and not based on some sense of measurably, positive return we will receive because of it.

Finally I would ask you; look at the faith of Abraham, Joshua, Moses, Ruth, Queen Esther, David, Mary, Peter, Paul and countless others in the bible who stepped out in faith, not knowing or caring about worldly return.  Look at Jesus Christ.  He who was with God from the very beginning, by Whom all things were made.  There was no gain in Him coming to earth; no increase in finances to feel earthly pain; no higher value because He died on the cross.  No by faith in His Heavenly Father, He did what He did.  Now Jesus Christ resides at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty.  So let it be for us; that our worship, our acts, our thoughts be because of faith in God the Father Almighty.  That we don’t try to see some eternal financial ticker that measures our return or gain based on our love for Him.  That in confidence, we understand that the Nature of Our Heavenly Father is to Love Us, to Keep us, to Bless us, in every way that we need, regardless of how the world would measure that return.  That we understand the greatest investment ever made was the investment of Christ’s death and resurrection for our salvation.  And that our aim be to return that investment with our love and steadfast devotion.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that the world teaches that we look for and do those things that will be the greatest personal gain back to us.  Please forgive us for those times that we are tempted to act that way.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit who testifies to us of Your Faithful Love and Blessings poured out for us because You are Our Father.  Help us to go forward in steadfast faith in You with no concern for what we will receive in return.  We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and Our Lord and Savior.  Amen

Advertisements