What is most evangelistic…great Sunday morning “worship” services, or great any-day living in hard circumstances? If you really wanted your neighbors, friends, and family to seriously consider the claims of Christ would you invite them to your church or would you invite them to see how you respond to and live in suffering?
May I invite your attention to Acts, chapter 16? If we begin in verse 16 we will see how two men, Paul and Silas, lived above circumstance. Please note that these men were doing nothing wrong; indeed, they were wholeheartedly pleasing God and doing good to others. In fact, Paul upheld the honor of God by rebuking a demon and in so doing freed a young girl from demonic harassment.
Surely pleasing God and serving others (while fighting the forces of evil) would yield praise and honor among men, right? Wrong…because Paul had hampered the wealth building scheme of selfish men, both he and Silas would (unjustly) suffer greatly. Here is a quick summary:
Paul and Silas were…
- Seized (against their will and thus having their freedom denied) Verse 19
- Dragged before the rulers (experiencing the shame of being arrested) Verse 19
- Falsely accused (having their name tarnished) Verses 20-21
- Attacked (by the crowds) Verse 22
- Stripped (by the magistrates before the eyes of people…increasing shame) Verse 22
- Beaten with rods (physically abused by a mob) Verse 22
- Inflicted with many blows (bloodied, bruised, and publicly beaten) Verse 23
- Thrown to the jailor (like trash) Verse 23
- Put in the inner prison (normal prison was apparently not bad enough) Verse 24
- Fastened in stocks by their feet (more physical pain) Verse 24
Talk about SUFFERING! What would you have done? Would you complain…against the owners of the girl, against the rulers, against the crowd, OR against God? Think about this: here you are serving God and helping people…and look what you get in return!
Now the rest of the story….Paul and Silas knew something, really knew something that allowed them to live above circumstance. Neither did they give any of the typical responses listed above. In fact, verse 25 brilliantly explodes with vibrant colors of a glorious, heavenly hue:
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25).
Did you catch that…they were singing hymns and praying…even while the blood still pulsed out of their body, even while the bruises still ached, even while their names were still muddied. They sang and prayed.
Seriously, wouldn’t you love to learn to live like that?!
Now the rest of the rest of the story…
“…and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
What a platform from which to preach the glories of God! What an opportunity to show how much better pleasing God is…even if it meant suffering this side of heaven! What an opportunity to really be evangelistic!
If we would live like Paul and Silas, we must know, to the same extent, the God they knew. Beloved, would that we all lived what A. W. Tozer knew: “The man that comes to a right understanding of God [and what He has done for you in salvation] is immediately relieved of 10,000 temporal problems.”
10,000 Blessings in The Treasure,