Vigilance or Preservation.
I’ve heard and read the passage in Acts 16:16-38 of Paul and Silas being jailed many times. In my recollection, most of what I remember being discussed is how even in suffering Paul and Silas prayed and sang. I think there is GREAT testimony in that fact. Today when I read it again, I really focused on something different and I think it is the greatest miracle in the passage.
To give you some background, Paul and Silas were presumably in the city of Philippi. There was a place of prayer just outside the city gates that they were going to. On the way they encounter a female slave that “had a spirit by which she predicted the future”. She made a lot of money for her owners with her fortune-telling. When she encountered Paul and Silas, she annoyed them by constantly proclaiming their purpose. I have to imagine that the tone of this woman is not one of fear but one of mocking, although the text does not specifically say. However, it does say that Paul became so annoyed that he commanded the spirit out of her.
This woman’s bosses became outraged and through false accusations had Paul and Silas beaten and thrown in prison! This is where it gets AMAZING! An earthquake happens rendering the jail open and their shackles broken! The jailer became so distraught that he was going to fall on his sword because the penalty for him losing his prisoners would have been execution.
Paul and Silas yell out to him not to do it because they have not left! Wait… what? The Lord provides supernatural escape and they stay???
This, to me, is the most amazing miracle. Paul and Silas look through their own pain and even their own opportunity to see a God creating for them an opportunity to share the gospel…. which they do. In this opportunity, the man and his whole household believed in the Lord Jesus and were baptized!!!
So what happened next? The jailer cleaned and fed Paul and Silas and the next day the magistrates ordered their release!
We will suffer. We will be mocked. We will be accused. We may even fall into intense suffering. In that suffering will we be focused on deliverance or will we be vigilant to the gospel? Is our first love our self preservation or is it to see others come to know our Lord and Savior?
… slap me in the face wake up call!
Soli Deo Gloria