When you come to The Lord and especially if you do a work in his name, it is never a bed of roses. The one thing you can be sure of is that if you work for The Lord you are going to come up against opposition and that means you may suffer.
Even those who do not do a specific work or ministry in The Lord will suffer for the sake of the faith they hold between themself and God.
Why? Because the ruler of this world is satan and we oppose everything he stands for. So even simple logic says that if you are opposed to the ruler, you are going to suffer for the stand you take.
Paul and Silas discovered this when they made a stand by casting out a demon from a slave girl where that demon had been a source of income for the slave girls masters. They took the right and appropriate action, freeing the girl from this bondage of demon possession, but like all actions we take…there were consequences. Look at what happened.
Doesn't matter if it is Good Deed
After Paul had cast out the demon, the slave girl's owners saw that their means of making a profit from her demon possession was now gone. They were angry and were not interested in the welfare of the girl but wanted to take out their anger on Paul and Silas for doing what they did.
First note that what the two men of God did was a good thing. This girl suffered at the hands of the demon and suffered as a slave of these men who owned her. She was in physical bondage as well as spiritual bondage and had no freedom.
Paul gave her spiritual release when he cast the demon, this spirit of divination out of her and released her so that she at least had the ability to choose to follow Jesus Christ or not. There was little they could do for her physical slavery, but at least she was no longer bound in mind and spirit to an emissary of satan.
But was this good deed done by Paul and Silas accepted by her masters with grace? Not a chance! All they cared about was the money. Sound familiar? Not a lot different from people in the world today who seek profit above welfare and money above relationships.
We then see these men take their anger out on Paul and Silas by dragging them into the marketplace, a public place where the rulers would come and sit in judgement, and placed them before the magistrates. And then to get their way they tell half truths, and we all know that a half truth is no truth at all…it's a lie. They say in verse 20-21,
20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.”
Yes they were Jews, but they were not disturbing they city. They were certainly disturbing these men, but it was they who caused the uproar, not Paul and Silas.
As for the customs that were not lawful for Romans to accept and practice, this was a bald-faced lie. The practices under Christianity were not unlawful and were not harmful to anyone. The only people it disturbed were those who followed the pagan religions of that place and time, but they had the freedom to choose whatever religious belief they wished.
And as we see the crowd was swept away in the uproar, which often happens. How often do we see people today caught up in a mob mentality doing things they would not normally do outside of the mob. And likewise as the owners of the slave girl raised a furore the crowd were carried away with it.
And so too were the magistrates. They did not stop to listen to what Paul and Silas had to say. They did not follow the Roman law which allowed a person to defend themself against wild accusations. Instead the magistrates took the side of the slave girl's owners without question and ordered men to beat Paul and Silas with rods and have them thrown into prison with their feet bound in stocks.
Like I said at the start, when you make a stand against what is evil in this world and you stand against satan who is the ruler of this world, you should expect to suffer for your beliefs.
Now the critical thing is not that they suffered but how they dealt with it. I will look at this in greater depth in the next post on my blog, but as was once said by Zig Ziglar, “Your attitude determines your altitude.”
How you deal with a situation determines much about the outcome. Where you stand is important and you must hold fast to what you believe even in the face of adversity. The right attitude is one that says, ” Yes I know I will suffer. But I also know why I suffer and the outcome of my suffering. I suffer for The Lord knowing that his promises and what awaits in his kingdom far outweighs the trials of this life.”
That is the attitude we ought to take. And even more, some of the other early disciples rejoiced when they suffered pain and physical punishment while testifying to the truth of the gospel. That is how much they realised that what we stand for is worth far, far more than anything in this world.
Including your life. What is the worst that man can do to a person on earth? Kill them. So what? If you were to die, you go to Jesus where there is no longer any pain or suffering or evil people to give you grief. Sounds like a better deal than putting up with the rubbish in this world.
Nothing can compare to what we have been offered in Christ Jesus and that is why we need to have the attitude that accepts suffering for what it is. The normal reaction of those who are the servants of satan and who oppose all that is good and right and true.
And there are other kinds of suffering we go through as well as we learn and grow in Jesus Christ. We suffer as the hard edges of sin are ground off, as the old habits formed by the evil passions and desires of human nature are gradually brought under control. There are many forms of suffering, but through them all we need to maintain the right attitude and act in accordance with how these two men of God acted, which is the subject of my next post.
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