May 2021 : When Jesus Puts You Out of Business
In the book of Acts we come across instances where some people'e businesses are struggling. Their business is in danger not because of a pandemic or a recession but because of the work of the Spirit in the preaching of the gospel.
We see an example of this in chapter 16 when Paul and Silas are in Philippi. Verses 16 – 18 tell us that Paul and Silas were being followed by a slave girl who had a 'spirit of divination'. She kept following Paul and Silas around and declaring something that was true, 'These men are servants of the Most High God who proclaim to you the way of Salvation.' We are then told that Paul got really annoyed and commanded the spirit to come out of her, and it did. This woman was free but her owners were not happy, why?, because they, 'saw that their hope of gain was gone.' They did not care about this woman's welfare, they simply cared about filling their own pockets. So instead of bowing the knee to king Jesus they drag them to the magistrates and have them put in prison.
A similar situation is found in Acts 19. There we find Paul in Ephesus where the Greek goddess Artemis is worshipped. In verse 23 we learn about Demetrius the Silversmith, who made 'silver shrines of artemis'. These were mini idols that the people could take home. He also made a decent profit from making these idols (v 24). Paul's preaching had been so effective in Ephesus that it was beginning to affect his business. There was all of a sudden less demand for idols because people were turning to Jesus! What an amazing impact the gospel was having in that place! Demetrius however, feels threatened, he likes his profit and so he gets a group together tells them if they don't stop this Paul guy they will all go out of business and artemis will stop being worshipped (v 27). So they basically start a riot and try to have Paul's companions prosecuted.
In both of these scenarios people feel threatened by the gospel. They feel threatened by Jesus. The god that they worship is under attack, their money. In Ephesus it was also the false god Artemis who was being threatened. In both accounts it is sad to read their reaction to the power of God. They see great things being done and they hear the good news about Jesus, yet they reject him because of the idolatry of their own hearts. They worship money and profit and so because of that they attack those who preach Christ. The saddest thing is they could have had the greatest treasure of all, they could have had Christ himself. They could have had salvation and eternal life.
As Christians we must examine ourselves to see if there is anything we put before Christ or worship instead of him. It might not be money. It could be any of God's good gifts or it could be a sin that we are not willing to give up.