“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.”
During Paul’s first visit to Macedonia, he was persecuted in city after city, beginning in Philippi where he and Silas were beaten. From there, Paul and his company visited Thessalonica where they were driven away by opposition. They were also mistreated in Berea, and the disciples had Paul transported to Athens. In Athens, while waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him, “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” The Greeks were known for their idolatrous worship, and Paul was moved by the spiritual blindness and bondage of the Athenian people. He was stirred by what he saw.
Wherever Paul went, he seemed to have a burden for the people. Most of us would agree that we need more of this concern in our lives. People are just as blind and lost in our day as they were two thousand years ago. Most people – if they have any religion at all – are deceived and hope in something other than the true Gospel and genuine salvation. They are worshipping some god other than the God of the Bible. They are content with their spiritual condition, not realizing that their religion is vain We need to see them as they are – lost and undone, and on their way to hell. Truthfully, we do not always see people the way a caring missionary like Paul saw them. We are often so busy or distracted, we fail to see people the way we should. We see them as people, but not as lost people, bound for eternal damnation. Because we do not see them in their true spiritual condition, we are not stirred in our spirit or burdened in our hearts.
Even as people serve God in various ministries, they may do so without the genuine compassion that is needed. We need a greater concern for the unsaved around us. One primary purpose for our lives is to preach the message of God’s salvation and influence others heavenward. In our personal lives, we need to be more conscious of the peril of those we see and know. In our churches, we need God to stir us in a greater way for the purpose of warning others and winning more to the Savior. May God help us to care – to see people as they really are, and to consider their needs as we should. If we could regularly take a serious and deliberate look at sinners, we might be stirred by what we see.