Word@Work, Let God's Word energise your working day!

Wise Resolution

Acts 16:37-40
But Paul said to the officers: 'They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.' The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left. (NIVUK)

Paul's missionary visit to Philippi resulted in a public beating and imprisonment (Acts 16:22-24), before an earthquake released Paul and Silas from their ankle shackles (Acts 16:25-26). However the jailer and his household all received Jesus Christ (Acts 16:27-34) and together with Lydia (Acts 16:14-15) and others, who had been converted earlier, a new church had been formed.

The earthquake seemed, to the city magistrates, to be a power-statement from Paul's God. Originally they had treated the missionaries roughly to appease the crowd (Acts 16:20-22). Now they probably wanted to protect themselves from God and so they sent a message to the jailer to release Paul and Silas and advise them to leave the city unnoticed. But Paul knew that was not right. The two men were Roman citizens who had the right to a fair trial and should not have been publically stripped and beaten. The magistrates now realised that they were in breach of Roman law, and they were frightened of the legal consequences.

Paul did not want the magistrates to lose their jobs or suffer worse punishments. Neither did he want the new little church to suffer official opposition after he left. So he wisely gave the magistrates and the church an honourable way through. He asked the magistrates to show the city that they apologised, by courteously escorting them through the city and saying a traditional 'farewell' at the gate – as they would for a visiting dignitary. The lawyers agreed and it was a good beginning for the church that became one of the least troubled of Paul's ministry.

When we have been unfairly treated, misunderstood or seriously disadvantaged, do we look for vengeance for ourselves, or seek to increase the opportunities for gospel ministry? We know that vengeance is God's prerogative alone (Romans 12:19). Our responsibility is not to get even with our enemies but to be wise so that the church is strengthened and not handicapped (1 Corinthians 14:12). Sometimes we need to take a bold stand (2 Corinthians 3:12) when guided by the Spirit, so that the world does not automatically assume the right to ridicule the Body of Christ. That is not a trivial matter: without divine wisdom it will be a folly (Luke 22:50-51), but if the Lord is in it then He will use your wise decision and action to advance the gospel. Watch and pray; personal vengeance can easily overtake divine mercy and grace (Luke 21:36).

Father God. Thank You for always being just. Forgive me when I want to get justice for myself and not allow You to work in the circumstances for the benefit of Christ's Body. Help me to learn how to come to wise conclusions as I watch and pray, and be courageous in the Spirit to express the wisdom You have put in my heart. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Bible Book: 

© Dr Paul Adams