5 But the unbelieving Jews were aroused to jealousy, and getting hold of some loungers (ruffians and rascals) in the marketplace, they gathered together a mob, set the town in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring [Paul and Silas] out to the people. Ė Acts 17:5 AMP
During Paulís second missionary journey, he stopped in the city of Thessalonica located in modern day Greece (Acts 17:1). As usual when he entered any city, he went to the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah and the way to eternal life. But Thessalonica was like many of the cities he entered, as some of the Jews didnít agree with Paulís message.
Some of the Jews in Thessalonica were in such disagreement with Paul that, as todayís verse says, they were aroused to jealousy. They were so jealous that they gathered together a mob of loungers, ruffians, and rascals from the marketplace and set the city into chaos. Now I want to do a bit of word play here for a moment, so just bear with me.
Noah Webster defines a lounger as an idler and one who loiters away his time in indolence. One of his many definitions for ruffian is a murderer. And he defines a rascal as a scoundrel, a dishonest fellow, and a rogue. Given those, look at the following Scripture.
2 You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. Ė James 4:2 AMP
The Jews in Thessalonica were jealous. They didnít want anyone to accept Jesus as their Savior. They incited a riot. Now my question is this: since they were jealous, are they not also ruffians? I think itís laughable that they were exactly the same kind of people they added to their numbers to set the city in an uproar. Whatís even more amazing is that Christianity is littered with loungers, ruffians, and rascals in this day and age.
Letís take a look at a lounger.
11 Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly [that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful of duty], being busy with other peopleís affairs instead of their own and doing no work. Ė 2 Thessalonians 3:11 AMP
Loungers were a real problem even in the early church as Paul points them out specifically in this verse. Today we call such people gossips or busybodies. If you think your church doesnít have one, youíre more than likely wearing those rose colored glasses Iíve spoken of before. No matter if your church membership is ten or ten thousand; I can almost guarantee you that there is at least one inside your walls every Sunday. Peter and Paul were very explicit about these individualsí idleness and how idleness has absolutely no place in the life of any Christian.
Ruffians are also prevalent in todayís church. Many Christians today have hatred and jealousy built up toward their fellow believers in a variety of ways. They may be jealous of anotherís material possessions or even their seemingly closer relationship with God. Sometimes this hatred leads believers to even spread gossip about others, thus making the ruffian also a lounger.
Rascals meanwhile are just liars. The Christian rascal hall of fame first and second inductees were none other than a husband and wife.
1 But a certain man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, 2 And with his wifeís knowledge and connivance he kept back and wrongfully appropriated some of the proceeds, bringing only a part and putting it at the feet of the apostles. Ė Acts 5:1-2 AMP
The story of Ananias and Sapphira is well known. For those of you who donít know, they died immediately after telling their lie. Lie. Plop. They were dead. It was that quick. They sought to deceive the flock in the process of seeking notoriety and power in the church. But their lie was exposed. Christians today from pastors to lay people are full of the same kind of behavior. Whether itís donating lots of money, giving freely of oneís time, or just pretending to be a caring friend, the church has more rascals behind their doors than they know.
There are two approaches to todayís blog. First, if you want to incite the masses, you donít have to go to the marketplace or local shopping mall. Look no further than the church on the corner. There will be plenty of people there to help you to get started.
On the other hand, my point today is quite the opposite. My point is that you need to rid your life of loungers, ruffians, and rascals. In doing so, things have to start with you. Are you a gossip or a busybody? Are you jealous of what others have? Do you go to church for a principal purpose other than worshiping God? A yes to any of those questions will not only shed some honest light into your life, but will also reveal a need for repentance. Are you tired of that kind of behavior in your life? Are you tired of seeing it in others? Only when Christians collectively put down such worldly behaviors will it finally be all about Him. Letís stop talking about it being all about Him and really do something to make it true for a change. Only then will we be different from the mob in the marketplace.