Paul had been preaching to the noble Bereans, and “many of them believed” (Acts 17:12). “But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people” (Acts 17:13). As a result of this danger, the brethren sent Paul away to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy behind. “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred [provoked – ASV] in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” (Acts 17:16).
Burton Coffman writes, “How differently the great apostle viewed Athens, when contrasted with the attitude of the ordinary tourist who would have been enraptured by the magnificent architecture and artistic glory of the city. This great citadel of Gentile intellectualism was, in Paul’s view, a pile of idols; and his holy heart was filled with indignation. However, ‘On this account, Paul did not seize an axe and destroy the images of the gods, and the altars, like the iconoclastic Puritans.’ Paul was not concerned with removing the idolatrous art from the city, but with removing the worship of idols from men’s hearts.”
As a result of Paul’s spirit being stirred within him, he preached a marvelous sermon on Mar’s Hill. Paul’s emotions stirred him to action! This great apostle was not going to stand by allow truth to remain silent. At this time Paul heart was much like that of Jeremiah, who declared, “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer. 20:9). The words of truth were burning in the heart of Paul and he was stirred to action.
I am reminded of the words of Peter who declared, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance” (2 Pt. 3:1). We need to be stirred up to greater faithfulness. Marshall Keeble once said that 2 Peter 3:1 reminded him of his mother as she made lye soap. She told brother Keeble that if she didn’t keep stirring the soap it would scorch. In like manner, he said, if we are not stirred up, we too, will scorch.
Beloved do we get stirred up over spiritual matters? We get stirred up when our children are mistreated at school, or when we have been wronged in the work place – but what about when spiritual truth is spoken against? Do we become agitated over the evils in the world? Are we greatly concerned at all the religious false teaching in our land? Better yet, are we concerned enough to do something about it?
When someone in the work place says that one religion is as good as another, will we be stirred to action and tell of the one true church? When an acquaintance speaks of equal rights for the “gay” community, will we be stirred to speak out against homosexuality? When a married man brags about his affair with a woman, will we be stirred to condemn him? When a friend tells an off-colored joke will we be stirred to voice our disapproval?
Beloved, will we be stirred to action, or will we hold our peace?