by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Acts 19:23-41
I. Our text illustrates the making of a riot
A. Certain men feared that Christianity would impact their income. - Acts 19:24-27
1. They stirred up the masses with fear of lost income and fear of a lost way of life.
2. The fear spread through the city, even when people did not understand what was going on - Acts 19:29, 32
3. The people shouted an essentially meaningless slogan for two hours - Acts 19:34
B. Fortunately the town clerk was able to calm the people down by getting them to think - Acts 19:35-37
II. We often face people who desire to pressure us into making a quick decision
A. Sales people tell us that it is only available for a limited time, that the prices can’t be guaranteed, that there are others waiting to buy this very item.
1. Someone called me up while I was writing this sermon offering to sell me insurance for my electric bill.
a. If my electric goes out, how is insurance going to get it back on?
b. If the electric company miss-bills me, do I need insurance to straighten it out?
B. The pressure is also in business.
1. I have a hard time remembering ever being told to take my time with a project. It seems that everything needed to have been finished yesterday.
2. I also noticed that it was the crisis projects that frequently got the best funding. I suspected that several of the crisis were manufactured to loosen the purse strings.
C. Con-artists use the same technique. Have you ever notice that when someone asks for a handout that it is always an urgent matter?
D. Or how about this quote about politics: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and hence clamourous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” [H.L. Mencken, In the Defense of Women, 1920]
E. False teachers also look for ways to stir up the masses: the imminent return of Jesus, the stock market is about to crash, the world is going to shutdown at the end of the century, global warming.
F. People who make quick decisions frequently make wrong decisions.
1. They don’t take the time to gather the facts. They don’t shop for the best price. They don’t consider other possible alternatives.
2. People understand that an ill-considered request will often be in their favor.
III. How to avoid acting rashly
A. Gather your facts
1. Proverbs 13:16 - Prudence acts with knowledge. A panic situation doesn’t allow time to gather information.
2. People call the building all the time for help. One of my standard questions is: “What congregation are you from?” or “Who can confirm your situation?”
a. Few want to wait while I check out their story.
b. Some refuse to give me a number to return their call.
c. While waiting a few hours may be uncomfortable, it is rarely a life or death situation. If a person needs help, then a short wait won’t make any difference.
3. Proverbs 19:2 - Acting without knowledge leads to errors.
4. Proverbs 18:15 - Prudence demands that we seek out information.
B. Be cautious
1. Just because something sounds reasonable at the moment doesn’t mean it is - Proverbs 14:15-16
2. The naive ignores the evil in front of him - Proverbs 22:3
3. Proverbs 12:23 - Don’t reveal everything you know
a. You can catch a liar when you don’t tell him the answers in advance.
b. It is how the “psychics” work. They draw the answers out of their subject without their awareness.
1. Proverbs 21:5 - Decisions should be thought out in advance.
a. Possible problems should be considered before they arise.
b. You want to avoid making a hasty decision. It won’t save you in every case, but it will minimize difficulties.
2. For example, what would you do if you lost your job tomorrow? Or if your house burnt down? Or if your car broke down?
a. Most of us would panic. But if you had a rough idea of the things you needed to do, bad decisions could be avoided.
3. Psalm 4:4 - Meditate on your bed. Think about God, His righteousness and the things you need to do to please Him.
4. It is a lesson that we are to learn from the ant - Proverbs 6:6-11
5. Forethought will often reveal that things need to be done in a different order.
a. Teenagers, what should you do first when it is time to strike out on your own?
b. Let’s see: I need a place to live. I need a car. I need to find a good paying job.
c. Proverbs 24:27 - Find a job first, otherwise you can’t afford a house.
IV. Sometimes in our eagerness to have people saved, we unwittingly press them into an ill-considered decision.
A. We are not to be hasty in our approach to God - Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
B. People must weigh the cost of being a Christian - Luke 14:26-33
1. Christianity is not a religion of convenience, but of commitment
2. It is an important decision that cannot be put off, but it cannot be made rashly.
C. It takes knowledge, forethought, and planning to be acceptable to God.