Bible Society of South Africa
Hennie Symington

A journey of the soul – Day 16

Bonfire of vanities

Bible text(s)

19Many of those who had practised magic brought their books together and burnt them in public. They added up the price of the books, and the total came to 50,000 silver coins. 20In this powerful way the word of the Lord kept spreading and growing stronger.

Acts 19:19-20GNBOpen in Bible reader

Not many people know who Savonarola was. He was an intelligent young priest who lived in Italy during the fifteenth century, with a very strong sense of right and wrong. He preached zealously against the sins of his time, and the abuses of the pope and other clergy. He even went as far as calling the church a prostitute.

He has a wide audience among the peasantry, but the nobility and the clergy wanted to crucify him. One day, he challenged the people of Venice to burn everything that enticed them into sin, on a pyre. And what a great fire it was: foul books and pictures, gaming tables, paintings of a dubious nature – in fact, anything that could be considered as sinful went up in the smoke. Unfortunately, after a while, people grew tired of the poor priest that, in the end, he was also burnt at the stake.

In Acts 19, we also read of a bonfire where vanity and sinfulness went up in flames. When a bunch of sorcerers at Ephesus saw how powerfully Paul brought people to faith, they brought all their magic books and idols – to the value of 50 000 pieces of silver in total, we read – to be burnt.

When looking at some of the things that believers are exposed to today, we also wish that we could start a great big bonfire with some of the stuff, such as certain movies, magazines, e-mails, music videos, websites, posters, dangerous drugs and liquor that rob people of their morality and steal the innocence of children, etc. If this should happen, it would be the mother of all bonfires!

Make your own little bonfire
Of course, we cannot go around burning stuff, but nothing stops you from building a little bonfire in your own heart. You can get rid of some of those things in your life that you know will start little fires of desire in your heart, and in the hearts of others. By doing so, you will go against the tide and stand as a beacon of light for others who have also had enough of folly.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.18.7
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