Envying the Extraordinary

From Acts 19:11-20 (ESV) 
And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 
And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

This is comic. I can’t help but chuckle at the thought of seven guys fleeing naked out the door. But I cringe as well. I know what it feels like to get beat up by my own grandiose plans.

I completely understand the envy of watching an amazing Christian ministry and desiring that success. For God’s glory, of course! Well, at least mostly.

And it’s only natural to copycat our idols. I might say to myself: that pastor’s wife has such a sweet demeanor and sings and prays so beautifully. I’m going to try to be more like that. Or that program or ministry meant so much to me at a certain point in my life so now I’m going to make sure that it gets implemented at our church!

Of course, pastor’s wives, programs and ministries can be wonderful things. But we can become battered and wounded if we make an end rush for results. How can we keep our desire for good success from eating us up and spitting us out?

Look at some of the other residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. They watched as God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, but their response was different. The Bible says fear fell upon them all. They saw through the handkerchiefs and aprons and recognized God at work. Then they extolled the name of Jesus. They realized that “Jesus” was not a magic word to grant them their wishes, but the God-Man who had given up His very life to redeem their souls. And they worshiped Him.

They repented. Costly repentance. 

The result? The word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. 

May God grant me the humility to see God in the good. To worship Jesus. To repent and simply allow God’s word to increase and prevail in my life.

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