Let's continue in Acts chapter 21 by looking at verses 17-26. In these verses Paul arrived at Jerusalem where he was warmly welcomed. Paul told the wonderful stories of God's work in his missionary journey. James and all the elders celebrated when they heard the news.
Then, James and the elders dropped a bombshell on Paul. They said that many of the Jewish Christians were under the belief that Paul had gone beyond the Jerusalem Council's decision. Remember, the Jerusalem Council had said that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised; only to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, the meat of strangled animals and sexual immorality. Paul was being accused of telling Jews not to circumcise their children.
This accusation was completely false.
Then James and the elders told Paul he needed take a purification vow (the Nazarite vow specifically). Not only that but he must pay for four other guys to take their vow. Paul could have been furious. He was falsely accused and ordered to complete a part of the law that his own theology claimed was completely unnecessary. It may have been helpful but it was not necessary.
But Paul did it, he submitted. He had to complete the seven days of personal sacrifice involved in the vow. He also had to purchase 10 doves, 10 pigeons, 5 year old male lambs, 5 year old ewe lambs, 5 rams, 5 grain offerings, 5 drink offerings, 5 baskets of unleavened bread, and 5 cakes (look at Numbers 6 to find this). I imagine this was expensive.
If I'm Paul I'm crying foul. "I don't need to do this vow to be forgiven by God and hey I didn't do anything wrong in the first place. Do you know what I went through to get here and bring you a gift of money? People were warning me not to come here. Forget you guys!"
Paul, however, was a bigger man than I. He did just as they asked. He submitted. He, the rockstar of all Christians, submitted to authority.
He knew he didn't need to take this vow but Paul was willing to not fight over the fringes of his faith in order that no one miss the meat and potatoes of his message. He didn't want dogma in the way of the Gospel of Christ.
"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings." 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
Paul picked his battles. He often fought and argued for the Truth, but he knew what battle was worth fighting.
Do you? Have you made a list of uncompromisable tenets of your faith? I encourage you to do that. Then don't let the rest get in the way of you being a part of the expansion of His Kingdom. Sure the details are important, but know when you want to fight over them because many times we Christians let the details blur the main point, namely the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Know what's worth fighting for. What are the tenets of your faith? Fight for those and be a slave to everyone to win as many possible today.