“As you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t gods at all. And this is happening not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her prestige!” - Acts 19:26-27
Many are of the opinion that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” According to this theory, if you keep a man’s basic needs met, he’ll be pretty docile and amenable! There is, however, a quicker way to a man’s heart, and that is through his wallet. Few things can be counted on to make a man passionate more quickly than money. Paul certainly discovered this during his ministry in the great city of Ephesus.
A number of lucrative businesses had sprung up around the temple of Artemis in Ephesus. A craftsman called Demetrius had a lucrative business making the silver shrines of the goddess (19:23-24). When Paul’s teaching was turning people away from worshiping Artemis, Demetrius was incensed that his business was in jeopardy. He called together his craftsmen, along with other men whose businesses were likewise suffering (19:25), and he complained about what Paul’s teaching was doing to their business and to the prestige of their goddess (19:27). At this the anger of the men boiled over, a demonstration took place, and crowds joined in, even though “most of them didn’t even know why they were there” (19:32). An ugly, dangerous situation developed, but the mayor handled it superbly and averted a disaster.
Demetrius was at least honest enough to say that he was worried first about his wallet, then about his prestige, and then about the status of Artemis! Granted, the crowd did not chant, “Great is the wallet of Demetrius!” Their rallying cry was, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” But behind the solidarity for the goddess was a profound concern for threatened wallets.
It is certainly appropriate for a man to react passionately if he is in danger of losing his livelihood. But many men have the same problem as Demetrius—their passionate concern for their wallet overrides all other interests and priorities. Such men may make appropriate religious noises, but their underlying interests are financial rather than spiritual. They may show some interest in the things of God, but little passion. Passion is reserved for the wallet. They devour the Dow with relish, show off their possessions with delight, and revel in the good of their goods.
Sadly, these men have forgotten “that it is the Lord your God who gives you power to become rich” (Deut. 8:18). Perhaps if they could recover that insight they might get passionate about him!
For Further Study: Acts 19:21-41