Father, give me sight to see my sins, grace to confess them, the will to forsake them, wisdom to learn from them.
Read Acts 21:27-22:2
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7,11,17,29). Take some time now to listen to the Spirit.
False accusation, mob rule and the cry of “Away with him” (36) all point to a strong connection between the experiences of Paul and Jesus. Jesus came to his own people “but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). Now Paul endures similar treatment initiated by fellow Jews from the province of Asia and quickly reinforced by a large crowd in Jerusalem. Those best placed to understand Paul’s mission are the very ones most threatened by his message and most vigorous in their opposition. It was ever thus, as Stephen ably demonstrated in the very sermon that, ironically, precipitated his death in the presence of Saul (ch. 7)!
Often it is the most religious who find the Gospel most objectionable. It challenges preconceptions about God and the nature and scope of his grace. How easy to resist the Holy Spirit’s message of change because change attacks our traditions and our cozy understanding of whom God will save. Tim Keller’s book The Prodigal God, based on the story of the prodigal son, exposes the “elder brother” tendency prevalent in our hearts. He states: “The anger and superiority of elder brothers, all growing out of insecurity, fear and inner emptiness, can create a huge body of guilt-ridden, spiritually-blind people, which is one of the great sources of social injustice, war and violence.”
The Romans’ intervention saves Paul from certain death at the hands of the mob. The Roman commander is the first to listen to Paul. The crowd mentality means that little heed is given to what Paul has actually said and done. That’s the first sign of resisting the Holy Spirit; we just don’t listen. Our minds are made up before a word is spoken or any evidence examined. Weighing and discerning are essential, but stopped ears and hard hearts are ungodly—and unteachable.
It’s easy to caricature the views and actions of others. Is there someone or some group that you need to listen to in order to understand them properly?
Lord, there are so many voices speaking to me these days, at times I fail to hear You. Help me filter out other voices and hear You clearly.
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