When Paul arrived in Jerusalem, he presented the church with a problem. The leaders accepted him and saw God's hand in his work, but rumors had been spread that he had encouraged Jews to forsake their ancestral faith. This, Paul, had never done. True, he had insisted that the Jewish Law was irrelevant for the Gentiles, but he had never thought to draw the Jew away from the customs of his fathers.
The leaders saw a way in which Paul could guarantee the orthodoxy of his own conduct. Four men were in the middle of observing the Nazarite Vow. This vow was taken in gratitude for some special blessing from the hand of God. It involved eating no meat and drinking no wine for thirty days, during which their hair had to be allowed to grow. It seems that sometimes at least the last seven days had to be spent entirely in the Temple courts. In the end, certain offerings had to be brought---a year-old lamb for a sin offering, a ram for a peace offering, a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, a meat offering, and a drink offering. Finally, the hair had to be cut and burned on the altar with the sacrifice. It is obvious that this is a costly business. Work had to be given up and all the elements of the sacrifice had to be bought. It was beyond the resources of many who would have wished to undertake it. So, it was considered an act of piety for some wealthier person to take the expenses of someone taking the vow. That is what Paul was asked to do in the case of these four men, and he consented. By doing so, he could demonstrate for all could see that he was, himself, an observer of the Law.
There can be no doubt that the matter was distasteful to Paul. For him, the relevancy of things like that was gone. But it was a sign of a truly great man that he can subordinate his own wishes and views for the sake of the Church. There is a time when compromise is not a sign of weakness but of strength.
Life Application: Would you be willing to fulfill the responsibility for someone else as Paul did when you don't agree with the purpose? How far would you be willing to go?
Praise/Prayer: Dear Father, thank You for the grace Yousupplywhen the going gets tough. I thank You for the grace You have supplied for me when the situation was something I was not prepared for. Whether it was bullets, gangs or other circumstances, You were all I have ever needed. The mystery, I never questioned. I only accepted and went on my way. Thank You for Your love that never stops. Amen!