AMID A PACK OF LIES
Loving God, open my heart to receive Your truth as I seek to follow You.
Read Acts 21:27–36
27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)
30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!”
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectHave you ever been lied about, and lashed back in response? It’s hard to hold one’s tongue amid false accusations.
After only seven days in Jerusalem, Paul was in a row! Jews from Asia had stirred up the crowd with a pack of lies. They said Paul preached against the Jews, the Law, and the Temple. They even falsely accused him of bringing Greeks into the Temple to defile it. Imagine how Paul, hardly a shrinking violet, had to bite his tongue in the face of these lies! What is most notable here is what Paul did not do: Paul never took on the crowd to defend himself. He let himself be taken, dragged out of the Temple, and even when they sought to kill him, he did not utter a word!
Thankfully God sent in the Roman cohort like the cavalry in a Western. The Tribune (commander of a thousand men) tried to address the crowd, but a thousand accusing voices arose. Paul still said nothing, until the dramatic moment in verses 37–39 when he could speak privately to the Tribune: “I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” Paul chose his words wisely for the strategic man and moment. His trust in God’s purposes allowed him to “tame the tongue” (Jas. 3:3–12).
Think of a situation that makes it hard for you to hold your tongue. What positive things can you say or tell yourself to help you “tame your tongue”?
Lord, grant me opportunities to “solemnly testify” about Jesus today, and the wisdom also for the strategic moment.