These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
Men, concerned with how a turn to the gospel in their city could negatively impact their business, gather together a group of similar tradesmen and address the issue. They start with addressing the bottom line but then manipulate the crowd by spinning it as a spiritual and cultural concern and threat. The people become enraged.
It happened in Ephesus and it happens today. People, concerned with how an issue might impact them financially, stir the crowds to believe the real motive is spiritual and cultural. If this isn’t America politics, I don’t know what is?
The love of money is the root of all evil. We see this on display here. When we love money and that money is threatened, we will spin anything into a cultural or spiritual issue to protect it. All the while people get played like fiddles. The real issue in this text is that worshipping Jesus would stop people from buying idols and therefore put them out of business. This was the primary concern. However, to ensure everybody would get behind them, they made it into an attack on Artemis and the Ephesians culture. It worked and Ephesus rioted.
A few things:
-As a leader, I must be honest about my motives. Masking a fleshly motive with spirituality is evil.
-People have hot button sensitive issues. We all know them. When they feel those are being impacted they can be moved to violence. I must not resort to the hot button issues and then be surprised by people’s response.
-I must be wise. Politics plays this game all the time. I must not get caught up in the argument and in my own passions and miss the fact I could be getting played for someone else’s agenda.
Father thank you for this insight. May I walk in your ways. Be honest about my motives, and be wise enough to discern other people’s motives.