“And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.”
One of the most frustrating feelings is to know that someone is about to make a wrong move and you can’t do anything about it. Anyone who has ever led a ministry has watched people make bad decisions that were going to affect their lives adversely, and there was nothing they could do about it. Parents have frustratingly watched their adult children make decisions that they couldn’t do anything about, hoping beyond hope that they come to themselves before they make a mess of their lives.
In the verse above, the disciples had to feel this way about the Apostle Paul. They knew that Paul had no business going to Jerusalem to fulfill a Jewish vow, and they told him. As much as they and Agabus told Paul not to go, he was determined to go, even though they were telling him through the Spirit’s guidance. There is no doubt these people were frustrated as they knew Paul was wrong. So, what do you do when you know someone is wrong and they won’t listen?
First, be sure you are right. These disciples knew they were right because they were being guided by the Spirit and not by feelings. We all have feelings that often get in the way of our discernment, but you must be sure that those feelings are not clouding your judgment.
Second, tell the person you think is making a bad move your concerns. Two groups of people told Paul that his decision was bad because they wanted to do all they could to keep him from making a bad decision. You have to be careful when you are telling someone that they are wrong, but I believe scripturally you have an obligation to at least tell them why you feel they are wrong. The only caution I give you is to be sure that you are doing it in a right spirit.
Third, pray for them. After these people had told Paul not to go, they prayed for him. The only one who can change someone’s heart is God. Instead of talking about them to others, you should commit them to the LORD in prayer.
Fourth, don’t preach at them after you have told them your concerns. After these people had told Paul their concerns, they ceased talking about the matter. The worst thing you can do when someone is making a bad move is to preach at them continually. This will only cause them to dig in deeper and be determined to do what they are going to do.
Fifth, let the LORD deal with them. In verse 14, these people committed Paul to the LORD. You would be wise to let the LORD work on their heart. You may not see any change, but you can’t see the heart. The LORD often works on the heart of the disobedient without notifying you what He is doing. Just pray and let the LORD do His work.
Sixth, don’t discuss your feelings with others and treat that individual with dignity so they can return if they choose to come back. If you talk badly about an individual’s bad decision to others, you could likely set a bad attitude towards them that will keep them from coming back. Treat them right and love them. Always leave an open door policy for their return if they decide to come back. You will be thankful you kept a right attitude towards them when they come to you for help.