America has gotten weak, fearful, and soft, including her Christendom

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The paragraph below was intended to be a tweet, but as I studied Acts 21, that tweet evolved into this blog post.

America has gotten weak, fearful, and soft, including her Christendom. I long for a Christianity that is a risk-taker, that’s hated by the world; even willing to die for the cause of Christ (Acts 21:13, Matt 5:10-16, Matt 10:28, Jn 15, Philippians 1:19-26; chap 3, James 4:4-5, Fox's Book of Martyrs).

The cross-references I cited only scratch the surface of my thoughts, but let us examine Acts 21:13.

“Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

The men in Paul’s life were sincerely concerned for his safety, but Paul was desirous of doing the will of God and fearing God more than fearing man and the certain dangers ahead. He was not afraid to be arrested, nor was he afraid of death. We need more men like Paul today. We need more courage, masculinity, and holy bravery.

Having said that. Consider reading Matthew Henry on Acts 21:13 below.

IV. The holy bravery and intrepidity with which Paul persisted in his resolution, v. 13.

1. He reproves them for dissuading him. Here is a quarrel of love on both sides, and very sincere and strong affections clashing with each other. They love him dearly, and therefore oppose his resolution; he loves them dearly, and therefore chides them for opposing it: What mean you to weep and to break my heart? They were an offence to him, as Peter was to Christ, when, in a like case, he said, Master, spare thyself. Their weeping about him broke his heart. (1.) It. was a temptation to him, it shocked him, it began to weaken and slacken his resolution, and caused him to entertain thoughts of tacking about: “I know I am appointed to suffering, and you ought to animate and encourage me, and to say that which will strengthen my heart; but you, with your tears, break my heart, and discourage me. What do you mean by doing thus? Has not our Master told us to take up our cross? And would you have me to avoid mine?” (2.) It was a trouble to him that they should so earnestly press him to that in which he could not gratify them without wronging his conscience. Paul was of a very tender spirit. As he was much in tears himself, so he had a compassionate regard to the tears of his friends; they made a great impression upon him, and would bring him almost to yield to any thing. But now it breaks his heart, when he is under a necessity of denying the request of his weeping friends. It was an unkind kindness, a cruel pity, thus to torment him with their dissuasions, and to add affliction to his grief. When our friends are called out to sufferings, we shall show our love rather by comforting them than by sorrowing for them. But observe, These Christians at Caesarea, if they could have foreseen the particulars of that event, the general notice of which they received with so much heaviness, would have been better reconciled to it for their own sakes; for, when Paul was made a prisoner at Jerusalem, he was presently sent to Caesarea, the very place where he now was (ch. 23:33), and there he continued at least two years (ch. 24:27), and he was a prisoner at large, as appears (ch. 24:23), orders being given that he should have liberty to go among his friends, and his friends to come to him; so that the church at Caesarea had much more of Paul’s company and help when he was imprisoned than they could have had if he had been at liberty. That which we oppose, as thinking it to operate much against us, may be overruled by the providence of God to work for us, which is a reason why we should follow providence, and not fear it.

2. He repeats his resolution to go forward, notwithstanding: “What mean you to weep thus? I am ready to suffer whatever is appointed for me. I am fully determined to go, whatever comes of it, and therefore it is to no purpose for you to oppose it. I am willing to suffer, and therefore why are you unwilling that I should suffer? Am not I nearest myself, and fittest to judge for myself? If the trouble found me unready, it would be a trouble indeed, and you might well weep at the thoughts of it. But, blessed be God, it does not. It is very welcome to me, and therefore should not be such a terror to you. For my part, I am ready,” etoimōs echō—I have myself in a readiness, as soldiers for an engagement. “I expect trouble, I count upon it, it will be no surprise to me. I was told at first what great things I must suffer,” ch. 9:16. “I am prepared for it, by a clear conscience, a firm confidence in God, a holy contempt of the world and the body, a lively faith in Christ, and a joyful hope of eternal life. I can bid it welcome, as we do a friend that we look for, and have made preparation for. I can, through grace, not only bear it, but rejoice in it.” Now, (1.) See how far his resolution extends: You are told that I must be bound at Jerusalem, and you would have me keep away for fear of this. I tell you, “I am ready not only to be bound, but, if the will of God be so, to die at Jerusalem; not only to lose my liberty, but to lose my life.” It is our wisdom to think of the worst that may befal us, and to prepare accordingly, that we may stand complete in all the will of God. (2.) See what it is that carries him out thus, that makes him willing to suffer and die: it is for the name of the Lord Jesus. All that a man has will he give for his life; but life itself will Paul give for the service and honour of the name of Christ.

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2161.

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