The Limits of Wise Counsel
Today’s reading: Psalm 31-33; Acts 21:15-40
14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Psalm 31:14-15
15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. Acts 21:15
One must be very careful about ignoring godly counsel while recognizing that even godly counsel is not infallible.
Paul had heard from several wise fellow believers that he would suffer arrest and adversity in Jerusalem. He also heard them urge him not to go. They loved him and they did not want him to suffer and possibly die. Paul was not foolhardy. There were certainly several instances when Paul avoided danger (e.g. Acts 9:23-25; 29-30; 13:50,51; 14:19-20; 17:13-14). Indeed, Luke comments that Paul and Barnabas “shook off the dust from their feet against [Antioch in Pisidia] and went to Iconium” (Acts 13:51) following the policy Jesus had given to His disciples when He sent them out to preach to unresponsive people (Matthew 10:14).
Perhaps, Paul remembered the words of Psalm 31 quoted above. His trust was in the Lord. He knew that he had been given a purpose and a ministry to complete. He believed it included going into the lions’ den of Jerusalem where some believers had questions about him and where unbelieving Jews were out to get the former persecutor of the Church. Paul trusted God who had his times in His hands.
So he did not follow the advice of his many well-meaning friends. He got ready and went to Jerusalem. Luke doesn’t tell us how Paul was so sure he needed to do this. He just went. As prophesied, he did begin to suffer almost immediately, but he would remain faithful and use that platform of suffering to glorify God and proclaim the gospel in some very unusual settings.
God does not guarantee that His path for us will be easy and pleasant or even “sensible” at all times. Be ready for anything, so that someday you can say:
21 Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. 22 I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help. Psalm 31:21-22