Summary: Peoples motives are revealed through their actions as demonstrated in the riot at Ephesus.
What are the things that motivate you? What are the things that motivate the people around you? Motives are one of the most powerful things on earth, they can change the way that we view other people and impact the way that we see their actions. Today’s passage is one that has a lot of action. These actions ultimately reveal the motives of the people who are involved.
Our key passage is Acts 19:21-41, “After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer. About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that that the temp of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. The assembly was in confusion: Some where shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” The city clerk quieted the crowd and said” “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. If, then, Demetrious and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.
We’ve been walking through the book of Acts. The last sermon in our series dealt with the supernatural, with the reality that there are forces in our world that we can’t see but according to the Bible they are very real. When these forces spill over into our lives they can have a profound impact on people. It caused a revival in Ephesus as the truth of God spread from person to person.
So then we pick up the story in verse 21 with, “After all this happened.” Paul decided that he wants to go to Jerusalem, but then he says something interesting, he says, “I must visit Rome also.” Look at the word “must” it wasn’t an option. Paul was a man driven by the Sprit. When he says that he must go to Rome it is because that is what he felt compelled by God to do. Isn’t it good to look at the life of a man and understand that his motives were driven by God?
This is something that people do a lot of. We look at what someone does and we assign them motives. The thing is that it is dangerous to assume what someone’s motives are. You’re talking about knowing what is inside someone else’s head and there’s no way that we can do that. We can’t know what someone else is thinking, we don’t know why they do the things that they do. This can cause us to thing better or worse of someone then they deserve. Paul again serves as an example. See we just got done saying that he was a man driven by the Spirit, but not everything he did was because God told him to. Notice that before this Luke wrote that “Paul decided to go to Jerusalem.” Who told Paul to go to Jerusalem? Paul did, that’s what he wanted to do. See we don’t always know why people do the things they do. Only God does and He will judge and reveals those motives as He chooses to.