Customs. The very word can make a traveler shudder. But today I’m not thinking so much about the experiences we have when we cross others borders with our goods to declare, but what others experience when they cross ours.
Let me explain. This morning I came across one of those little chunks of Scripture that I may have read a zillion times, and yet, this time I saw something I had never seen before.
“As was his custom”
I remember seeing those words about Daniel. But now Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, reveals that when Paul and Silas got to the town of Thessalonica, Paul, as was his custom, went into the synagogue and began to reason with the people from Scriptures, explaining and proving that Jesus had to suffer and rise from the dead.
“As was his custom”
After reasoning with them on 3 separate Sabbath days (or two weeks), some Jews were persuaded and joined them, along with some God fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. (I love how he writes, “not a few”) anyway. . .
BUT! And this is a big but because although I had noticed Paul’s custom had been written about, I had missed the fact that he wasn’t the only one with customs. . . .
You see, some of the Jews had customs, too. They were jealous (as was their custom), they rounded up some “bad characters” from the marketplace (as was their custom), formed a mob (as was their custom) and started a riot (as was their custom).
It’s weird how I hadn’t noticed it before. I mean, I knew that this was how it was. Paul preached; Paul was persecuted; Paul went to a new town. Paul preached; Paul was persecuted; Paul went to a new town. That was his custom. I just hadn’t seen theirs, and how that could apply to me.
As God stopped me in my tracks, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What are my customs?” You know, like what would be written about me in my books of acts? Or what would be in your book of acts?
“She cared for her friends and family,” as was her custom. “She taught at church every Sunday,” as was her custom. “She gave of herself generously,” as was her custom.
No doubt there would be things like that. But if we aren’t careful, there could also be things like this:
“She stirred the pot inside and outside of the kitchen,” as was her custom. . . “She stayed up for a movie, but slept through church,” as was her custom. . . “She pointed out other’s faults, while ignoring her own,” as was her custom . . . Her knives were dull, but her tongue was sharp,” as was her custom.
I guess the point is that as believers we should not be “accustomed” to the deeds of the flesh, but should instead be allowing God to “customize” our hearts and lives in such a way that when our stories are written, that the things that are said about us and our customs are the things that would help others to see the God we serve and bring Him the glory He is due. The things that, when someone hears our name or passes our way, don’t make them shudder, but instead, lead them to make it their custom to want to join us as we have joined with Christ.
And that is something good worth declaring!