July 29: “When It’s Appropriate to Flex Your Muscles”

6 Minute Read + Scripture readings

Today’s Bible Reading:

Judges 12
Acts 16
Jeremiah 25
Mark 11

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Acts 16:37 (CSB): “But Paul said to them, ‘They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to send us away secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out.’”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Generally speaking, a Jesus-follower understands the words of Scripture to mean that he or she has the right to stand up for themselves but that they also have the right to simply receive injustice. If we graciously endure injustice, our actions speak powerfully and will gain the attention of others (Matthew 5:38-42; 1 Peter 2:20)!

However, whenever it comes to standing up for others, that’s a different matter. Jesus rarely spoke up or acted to protect Himself but He periodically spoke or acted to protect others, even at personal expense (John 10:11; John 18:7-9).

So, what’s going on in the verse I have chosen for today? Why did Paul call for the magistrates to come and release him from jail?

Well, Paul and Silas were put into jail, essentially, for proclaiming the Gospel. It was alleged that their message was anti-Rome (Acts 16:21). So, they were beaten and thrown into prison for proclaiming the Gospel.

As you read Acts 16, you observed that Paul and Silas were able to lead the jailer to the Lord (and everyone else in his household). The next day, orders were given to release Paul and Silas and the jailer came to let them out.

I suspect that as Paul looked into that new believer’s eyes, he couldn’t help but think that the jailer would be concerned that his own faith would soon send him and/or his family members to prison. With rogue city leaders whimsically sending Christians to jail, it would certainly happen again.

That’s what seems to have caused Paul to flex his muscles. He wanted to create some healthy fear in the hearts of those unjust city leaders. He wanted them to think twice before they so quickly abused another Christian.

So, he told the new believer (the jailor) to go and tell those city magistrates that unless they wanted trouble for committing a crime, they had better come themselves to the jail to release Paul and Silas. In fact, even after the city officials, with their tail between their legs, released the Apostle Paul and Silas, they took their time getting out of the city. Once again, they wanted to put some fear into those officials and it appears to be for the benefit of other believers.

If you are wronged, it may be the most Christlike thing to do to simply accept the injustice and wait for God to exercise His own vengeance (Romans 12:18-21). But, if standing up to an injustice will protect others from that same injustice, then prayerfully go for it.

Imagine what it would be like if Christians didn’t have to fend for themselves but, instead, stood up for fellow believers in a world that is saturated with injustice. That, my friends, is what love looks like. It is what Paul, and Jesus, and so many others have illustrated for us.

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, it appears that it is going to get progressively more difficult to live out of my faith in the public square. But, while I understand that it will sometimes be wrong to stand up for my own rights, it is oftentimes right to stand up for others. Help me to search Your Word to understand this principle more clearly so that I can do as You desire, and with a heart that is right. I want to be a godly example, for the benefit of others, and in front of a watching world. Amen.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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