Saturday, October 28, 2023
The soldiers who were about to interrogate Paul quickly withdrew when they heard he was a Roman citizen, and the commander was frightened because he had ordered him bound and whipped.
The next day the commander ordered the leading priests into session with the Jewish high council. He wanted to find out what the trouble was all about, so he released Paul to have him stand before them.
Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began: "Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!"
As Luke often does in his gospel, here he uses the good, fair, right, and godly actions of Gentiles to contrast to the unfair, unkind, cruel, and ungodly actions of the Jewish opponents of Jesus and his disciples.* In our world of rancorous, contentious, and nasty divisions, Jesus expects his followers to be good, fair, right, and godly in their words and actions. In the apostle Peter's letter to Asian believers (1 Peter), he writes to help believers navigate the troubled waters of living above reproach despite possible suffering, persecution, and unfair treatment.** Paul is Luke's example in Acts of living this way, and Paul called others to follow his example (1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1; Philippians 4:8-9). Let's be able to say with Paul that we have "lived before God with a clear conscience," regardless of how we are treated.
* See our first set of Related Scripture Readings for Luke's accounts of good people who weren't Jewish. Also, the commander in today's verses is the same one who, the previous day, ordered that Paul be whipped to force a confession from him (Acts 22:24), but that was common practice. Luke recorded it as just a matter-of-fact incident.
** See our second set of Related Scripture Readings.
Loving Father, forgive me for my outbursts of impatience, frustration, and anger when I feel that I am unfairly treated. I know I need the Spirit to help me find a proper balance between bearing up under unfair treatment and standing up for my rights with kindness. I want to be an example of gentleness and respect to all people while also being strong in Jesus and standing for what is right, fair, and just. Please give me strength, wisdom, patience, and compassion as I deal with these issues in everyday life. I ask this to be transformed into the likeness of my Savior, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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