[When preparations were being made to whip Paul, he told the Roman officer that he was a Roman citizen, and the officer told the commander.] So the commander went over and asked Paul, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?"
"Yes, I certainly am," Paul replied.
"I am, too," the commander muttered, "and it cost me plenty!"
Paul answered, "But I am a citizen by birth!"
— Acts 22:27-28 NLT
Paul was blessed to be born into a family made up of Roman citizens. Citizenship by birth was a prestigious blessing. In the first century, there were three ways to obtain Roman citizenship:
- To do some mighty deed that blessed or brought honor to the Roman Empire and then have citizenship bestowed on you as a reward.
- To purchase citizenship through the sponsorship and patronage of an influential Roman citizen.
- To be born into a family of Roman citizens, which was especially prestigious.
Paul was blessed to be a Roman citizen by birth, an honor that brought with it legal privileges that Paul used to protect himself and his ministry. While not all who reads this devotional have special blessings and privileges because of their birth, many of us do. Paul recognized the principle of privilege that he had. Regardless of our citizenship status on this earth, we all have privileges that are rooted in our spiritual heritage, and we need to recognize the responsibilities that come with those privileges: We are blessed to be a conduit of blessing.* Jesus said it this way:
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.**
How have I used the blessings and privileges given to me to bless others and grow the Kingdom?
Father in heaven, you have blessed me with so many blessings in so many ways. Please accept my thanks for these precious gifts of your grace. I ask for the Spirit's help in knowing how best to use these blessings to serve and encourage others and to bring glory to Jesus' name. Thank you, dear God, for all of your gifts, especially the gift of Jesus, who purchased my salvation and who ensures my future. Amen.