Acts chapter 17

…his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. – Vs 16

What upsets you? What kinds of things provoke you and cause you to take action? Are there any things going on in the world today that cause you to react and then act? Do you ever read the paper, watch TV, or drive through your community and become aware of things that stir something deep within you?

That’s what happened to Paul. When he arrived at Athens, he was “provoked” at all the idols on display in this city. That word “provoked” actually means “to be greatly upset, to be exhasperated,” or even “to burn with anger.” Paul was not a happy camper. The abundance of idols really got to him. Not because he hated idols, but because he knew they represented countless people who were mistakenly worshiping and relying on them for protection and salvation.

A Burden For the Lost

Paul was anything but a tourist. Instead of walking the streets of Athens, taking in all the sights and sounds of a large, cosmopolitan city, Paul was burdened and bothered by what he saw. He didn’t just see gleaming temples and architectural wonders. He saw man-made monuments to self-righteousness. He saw impressive religious sites erected by misguided men. He saw temples dedicated to everything from pleasure to piety. In other words, Paul looked at Athens and saw it for what it really was: A city full of lost and hopeless sinners. He saw people imprisoned by the lies of religion. He saw a city in need of the grace of God’s good news about Jesus Christ.

Fed Up? Then Speak Out!

Paul was motivated. He was energized. Not just by his love for the Lord, but by his love for the lost. Why else would this man subject himself to beatings, abuse, accusations, ridicule and scorn time after time? Why else would he make a beeline to the synagogue in every city to which he went – knowing that it would probably lead to yet another threat on his life? Why did he travel thousands of miles in order to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Because he was “provoked” by what he saw. He was burdened for the souls of men and women who were blindly facing an eternity separated from God, all because no one had told them the truth!

So Paul “reasoned” with them (Vs 2, 17). He “explained” and “gave evidence” (Vs 3). He “preached” (Vs 18). He told them the truth about Jesus Christ. He told them about the resurrection. He told them to repent. He told them about the coming judgment of God. In other words, Paul got fed up and spoke up.

What About You?

Are you fed up? Are you sick and tired of what you see going on in the world around you? Do you look at your city and see the sites or do you see sinners in need of a Savior? Paul’s spirit was provoked within him. Is mine?

Father, give me eyes like Paul’s. Help me to see the world around me the way you do. Let me see the faces behind the facades. Provoke my spirit. Give me a holy exasperation for what I see going on around me. Make me fed up, so that I might speak up. And tell a lost and dying world about the truth of Jesus Christ. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org