Afterward Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. “And after that,” he said, “I must go on to Rome!” He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed awhile longer in the province of Asia. About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows: “Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!” (Acts of the Apostles 19:21-27 NLT)
As Timothy and Erastus go into the region of Greece and its's northern area, Paul remains in Asia Minor a little while longer. A man with a thriving business of making silver shrines (idols), named Demetrius, stirs up trouble for the Christians in Ephesus. He had made a lot of money making statues to the Greek goddess Artemis (Diana) and had several employees. The gospel had spread so well and had such wide spread acceptance that it began to affect his business and the livelihood of his employees. He used this economic strategy against the furtherance of "The Way" (the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ). It is likely that he didn't really care about the Greek goddess or its spiritual significance to the city. He was wrapped up in the monetary gain that it brought him. Money was his driving force. He called together his employees and other employers and their employees to discuss the matter of their profits and losses. He used the religious card to gain an audience with the public as we will see tomorrow.
Often, in our time, as well as then, the gospel has such an impact in a culture that it changes the infrastructure of the society. When this happens, it can result in certain people getting upset because it affects their "bottom line". I Timothy 6:10 says For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10 NLT). Even in ministry, some have used the name of Jesus for personal gain. Merchandising the gospel can become the same as what Demetrius was doing. There is nothing wrong with producing, manufacturing, and promoting things related to Christ, but we must not let our motivation be simply to make a dollar. Jesus kicked over the tables and used a whip, that He personally made , to drive out merchants in the Temple. John 2:13-16 says "It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (NLT).
We, too, can get caught up in monetary and material prosperity. We must be careful not to allow "stuff" to take a stronghold in our lives. Jesus said in Luke 12:15 "...Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (NLT).
We all need financial resources to live but we must never let life be controlled by our "bottom line". When we do, we are, like Demetrius, putting other gods before Him.
“You must not have any other god but me. “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. (Exodus 20:3-6 NLT)
Rev. Curtis Norris