Shave and a Haircut — To Wit
New Creation Project
Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off because of a vow he had taken (Acts 18:18).
This simple sentence fascinates me. Why was it included in the scriptures?
Just before he left for Syria, Paul got a haircut. It had something to do with a vow he had taken. What vow? Why?
It doesn’t make sense. After all, we read the Bible to gain spiritual enrichment. If Paul had taken a vow, shouldn’t we know something about it? Why keep us in the dark?
Perhaps the fact that we don’t know is precisely the point. The content of Paul’s vow is of less consequence than the fact that he made one. Maybe the writer merely wants us to realize there was more to Paul than what met the eye. His spirituality was not always on public display.
Some have speculated that Paul had taken the Nazirite vow, a vow most notably taken by the strong man named Samson. Among other things, it involved letting your hair grow. The vow was over and Paul got a haircut.
Perhaps. Still, the absence of comment is telling. We’re afforded a peek into Paul’s personal spirituality. His life with God was genuine and authentic. He had a depth which went beyond his public persona, and the writer of Acts wanted us to see Paul’s inner spirituality.
This little story reminds me of a pair of Oakley sunglasses I found in the Target parking lot many years ago. My family was with me as we celebrated the discovery of this expensive and fashionable eyewear.
My elation was short-lived, however. For when I arrived at our car with my prize in hand my conscience got the better of me: “You ought to return those to the store. These glasses don’t belong to you.”
I reluctantly trudged into Target. “I found these outside in the parking lot,” I said to the service counter attendant.
“Wow! Nice glasses!” he said.
“Yes, I know,” I replied. “Can I leave my name in case no one claims them?”
“Are you kidding?” he said. “They’ll come back for these.”
I persisted, but he would have none of it. No doubt he intended to keep them for himself. I was upset but kept my composure. (It still makes me mad, remembering it!) Turning away, I felt angry and depressed.
As bad as that was, the worst part of the whole affair was this: while I walked toward my car the Voice in my head said, “Steve, this was between me and you. It was not a sermon illustration. Keep it to yourself.”
“What?” I thought. “If I can’t keep the glasses for myself, at least I should get a good illustration for my efforts!”
The Voice insisted: “You heard me. No glasses for yourself. No grandstanding before your kids. No sermon illustration to make you look good. Just me and you and the right thing to do. Keep your mouth shut.”
As a result, I kept my secret hidden away. Until today. Oh well.
Before he left Target, he had his illustration cut off because of a vow he had taken.