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Wisdom In Action

Acts 23:16-22
But when the son of Paul's sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, 'Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.' So he took him to the commander. The centurion said, 'Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.' The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, 'What is it you want to tell me?' He said: 'Some Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. Don't give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.' The commander dismissed the young man with this warning: 'Don't tell anyone that you have reported this to me.' (NIVUK)

Paul did not panic because he was wise. The Roman military in Jerusalem, whose duty was to keep the peace, had foiled two attempts by Paul's accusers to kill him (Acts 21:30-42; 23:10). The Apostle had been kept in the barracks overnight. The next day forty of the religious Sanhedrin Council were so furious about Paul preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead (they were the people who petitioned Pilate, the Roman Governor, for Jesus to be crucified) that they plotted to ambush Paul between the barracks and the religious court.

The plan was not secret for long and Paul's nephew, who lived in Jerusalem, heard what they intended to do. So he went to the military citadel and told Paul. But the previous night, Paul saw the Lord and heard him say, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome" (Acts 23:11). So Paul knew that he would not die and would be taken to the hub of the Roman Empire to plead the case for Jesus at the supreme court.

The young man's information was crucial. Paul did not tell the commander himself but asked the centurion, who was guarding him, to take his nephew to the commander. The commander listened to the teenager in a private conversation. The full story came out. It must have alarmed the commander because his job, or even life, was at risk if he failed to restore peace in Jerusalem. Paul wisely allowed the boy to speak about what he had heard, and not to try to argue for his own protection. Clearly, the message radically altered the commander's plan (Acts 23:23-33), and Paul was safely taken out of Jerusalem under a massive military guard.

There are times when it is right to speak up to protect yourself (Acts 22:23-29); but at other times let others speak for you or trust the Lord to keep you safe. Wisdom is knowing which option to take at the right time. If we do not know what to do, we should ask the Lord (James 1:5). When we know Him, having welcomed the indwelling presence of Jesus, He gives us wisdom - because He is the Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:30). That is why we need to keep looking to Jesus. When we fail to do so, wisdom is no longer clear and we are at risk from handling temptation unwisely. When we repent, the Lord teaches us again how to see what is true and how to use it in a way that glorifies Him, blesses others and guides us safely forwards.

Almighty God. Thank You for Your wisdom which Jesus shares with all who look to Him. Forgive me for failing to look to Him and trusting idols instead. I repent and ask that You please teach me how to follow Jesus wholeheartedly so that I can glorify Him as I make wise decisions which will bless others and enable me to keep on track with Your plan for my life. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams