Why Would Paul Cry?

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Why Would Paul Cry?

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There is a saying that some things “could make a grown man cry.” That comment is sometimes made in jest because grown men seldom cry. It is not considered a manly thing to do. Men are supposed to be strong and reliable. They are the “knights in shining armor” who rescue the damsels in distress. Women can also show great courage and strength, but there is usually a difference in the way in which men and women approach trials and troubles in life. Men are, generally speaking, less likely to cry. Paul endured much physical hardship Paul was a very strong man. He survived the arenas of the Roman Empire (1 Corinthians 15:32 1 Corinthians 15:32If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantages it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
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). He was beaten more times than he could count (although he sometimes did count—2 Corinthians 11:23-24 2 Corinthians 11:23-24 [23] Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. [24] Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
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) and took those beatings “like a man.” It does not seem that those beatings brought Paul to tears. In addition, Paul did not hesitate to board a ship and head out to face the most severe storms at sea (2 Corinthians 11:25 2 Corinthians 11:25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
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). He also faced raging crowds who were shouting for his death and picking up stones that they then used to try to put him to death. Stoning in those days was more than throwing a rock in the recipient’s general direction. When they left him, he was considered dead. A person is hard-pressed to find a more heroic, strong-minded, death-defying hero than Paul; and yet the Bible tells us that Paul was reduced to tears on more than one occasion. Here is a “man’s man” who cried and yet who lost none of his manliness. Who was responsible for his tears and what was it that made Paul cry? Paul’s emotional involvement in the Church Acts 20:17-31 Acts 20:17-31 [17] And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. [18] And when they were come to him, he said to them, You know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, [19] Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: [20] And how I kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, [21] Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. [22] And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: [23] Save that the Holy Ghost witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. [24] But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. [25] And now, behold, I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. [26] Why I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. [27] For I have not shunned to declare to you all the counsel of God. [28] Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
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describes the work Paul was doing in Ephesus and other cities. He had come to Asia and served with “many tears” (verse 19). Those tears were not for him—they were for the people he was serving. He was so deeply concerned about their well-being that he was intensely emotionally involved. In verse 31 he speaks of the consistent warning he had given the Ephesian congregation. That warning described dangers the members of the Church would face. He wrote about “savage wolves” that would come in and not spare the flock or the Church (verse 29). Paul would have liked to be there with the Ephesians to fight off these attacks. The savage wolves were not animals as he had fought in the arena—they were humans pushed on by Satan to destroy the Church. In Revelation 12:3 Revelation 12:3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads.
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and 13, Satan is depicted as a “great, fiery red dragon” that persecutes the woman (the Church). Paul was right to be worried about the danger to the members of the Church. Paul wrote about the functions within the Church, which is the body of Christ. He continued to strongly remind the brethren to be gentle and longsuffering and to strive for peace (Ephesians 4:2-3 Ephesians 4:2-3 [2] With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; [3] Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
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). He seems to indicate that there were great problems. When one writes to a group or a church and gives a message that includes “putting away lying” (verse 25), it seems clear that some must have been lying. Paul found a great deal to remind and warn the Christians in Ephesus about. He detailed the kind of sins that would keep them out of the Kingdom of God. John would be inspired to write that liars would not inherit the Kingdom (Revelation 21:8 Revelation 21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
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), and Paul would have understood and known this. His concern was for the well-being of the members. He had his own list of barriers to the Kingdom of God in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 [9] Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, [10] Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
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. He knew the background of those he served and worried about them slipping back to the darkness from where they came. Those responsible for Paul’s tears, then, were the converted members of the congregations he served. As time passed, he began to feel like a father to them, and a genuine love and concern grew towards these brethren. Paul writes about his heartfelt bond as he addresses the members of the church in Galatia as “my little children” (Galatians 4:19 Galatians 4:19My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
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). He went on to say he would like to be with them and change the tone of his letter, which revealed his worries about them. Paul is not the only apostle who felt so strongly about the people he served. In 1 John 2 we find several references to Church members whom John addressed as his “children.” Tears are not unmanly Sometimes when a man is at a point of frustration or a point where he does not know what the next step should be he becomes very sad. When the potential is recognized and the good things documented, and yet people discard them like something of little or no value, Paul and others like him are reduced to tears. Children who reject every good gift that is offered also reduce parents—who see the potential of their children and want only good for them—to tears. Paul had learned the hard way that God’s way is the only way and God’s promises have no equal or parallel. He suffered physical loss and abuse in order to preach the word of truth and hope to others. He spent his years instilling the hope for the Kingdom of God and eternal life in all people, Jew and gentile alike. Sometimes Paul must have felt that his work was for nothing. Paul explained to the Corinthians that he wrote with many tears that they would know the genuine love he had for them (2 Corinthians 2:1-4 2 Corinthians 2:1-4 [1] But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. [2] For if I make you sorry, who is he then that makes me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? [3] And I wrote this same to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. [4] For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have more abundantly to you.
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). His intention was not to make them grieve. He was looking for spiritual growth in them, and thus was suffering the deepest inner grief and anguish over his inability to come to them and help solve the ongoing problems that they did not seem to be addressing. He would rather have rejoiced in the spiritual growth that should have been present, but he found things that caused only sorrow. There are other reasons why Paul may have been reduced to tears. Sometimes a person has an emotional side to him or her that is easily touched. Since God is Almighty and does not allow evil to go unpunished, His servants know that those who oppose God will have a terrible price to pay. Paul loved the Philippian church, but even in this “favorite” church of his he found things to be deeply concerned about. Philippians 3:18-19 Philippians 3:18-19 [18] (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: [19] Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
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shows that even in Philippi there were brethren who were enemies of the Church. He begs them to stand fast in the Lord (Philippians 4:1-3 Philippians 4:1-3 [1] Therefore, my brothers dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. [2] I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. [3] And I entreat you also, true yoke fellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.
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). Paul had seen many things in his life. He was fiery and had a zeal that burned strongly within him. That zeal had driven Paul to persecute the Church when he was Saul the Pharisee. His views changed, but his zeal was always present. It allowed him to be in labors more abundant than all of those who were causing trouble (2 Corinthians 11:23 2 Corinthians 11:23Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
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). Those who made Paul cry were those whom he loved and for whom he had given up everything. He feared that they might be “disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27 1 Corinthians 9:27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
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). He knew that, once the blood of Jesus had been shed for a person, that person had to go forward. His eternal life would be at stake if he or she failed (Hebrews 6:4-6 Hebrews 6:4-6 [4] For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, [5] And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, [6] If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
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). Paul was not able to make decisions for them, and he was not always able to be there. He was forced to stand by and watch how they responded. We read the story of Jesus who also wept as He approached Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44 Luke 19:41-44 [41] And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, [42] Saying, If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong to your peace! but now they are hid from your eyes. [43] For the days shall come on you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side, [44] And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone on another; because you knew not the time of your visitation.
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). He wept because He knew that they had rejected Him and He could foresee the warfare and devastation that was to come to the city with all the accompanying pain and suffering that was not necessary. Those are the reasons the strongest men weep. It is not for themselves, and it is not caused by suffering or weakness. It is for others that these men weep. Paul wept for the sake of those he loved and who loved him. So must we all. Recommended reading To learn more about the early Church and the hardships it faced, please request our free booklet The Church Jesus Built.

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