I keep a section in my “notes” app on my phone for jotting down things that strike me that I want to look into further, either for my own study or perhaps to develop into a blog post. In deleting some old notes recently, I came across a notation that said “The danger of a stirred-up woman: Acts 13:50.” In the KJV this passage says: “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.” Some other translations use the word “stirred”; some say “incited.” In this chapter, Paul and Barnabas had come to Antioch and shared the gospel, and many believed. “But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him,” verse 45 (ESV), and then by verse 50 they stirred up others to expel the preachers.
I know the passage refers to men as well, but it struck me both as a woman reader and as someone who has seen the results of a stirred-up woman both in others and in myself.
I looked up the Greek word translated as “stirred” or “Incited” in this verse and found it is only used here. So I looked up other verses using the English word “stir.” An interesting study! One can be stirred up in a bad way (all ESV unless otherwise noted):
All day long they injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life. (Psalm 56:5-6).
Deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord, for no fault of mine, they run and make ready. (Psalm 59:2-3)
Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually. (Psalm 140:1-2).
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12).
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1).
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. (Proverbs 17:18).
A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched. (Proverbs 28:25).
A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. (Proverbs 29:22).
And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him [Jesus] and seized him and brought him before the council (Acts 6:12).
Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. (Acts 21:30-31). (There are several passages in Acts about people being stirred up after the apostles preached.)
As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11).
…Or in a good way:
And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord‘s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. (Exodus 35:21).
And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair [for the tabernacle] (Exodus 35:25-26).
And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work. (Exodus 36:2).
Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:5).
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6, KJV).
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities [in verses 3-11], though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder…(2 Peter 1:13).
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. (2 Peter 3:1-2).
Furthermore, “stirring” can be done by God, by ourselves, by other people, and by situations.
Sometimes we need stirring. Hosea speaks of sinful people “like a heated oven
whose baker ceases to stir the fire” (7:4b). But sometimes we’re stirred up to the point of getting out of hand, and sadly, it’s usually the negative kind of stirring that does this the quickest.
So when i feel “stirred up,” I need to ask myself:
- What is stirring me up? Is this from God, from myself, from others?
- What emotions are stirred up? Anger, spite, selfishness, jealousy? Or love and compassion?
- Am I being stirred up to a mindless, destructive frenzy or to purposeful usefuless?
- What am I stirred up to do? Lash out? Exact vengeance? Harm? Put someone in their place? Use my gifts to help others? Serve? Love?
My initial thought of “the danger of a stirred-up woman” is only partially accurate. After this study, I’d instead refer to “the power of a stirred-up woman,” for evil or for good. Self examination in the light of God’s Word will help me understand whether that stirring is something I need to yield to or to confess and repent of.