Never Stop Doing What Is Right In The Eyes Of God
19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
Most people have a really bad day every now and again. But Paul had it a little harder than most people. Even God said (about Paul’s life):
15 …”Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Paul had some interesting trials to undergo:
23 …I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
Most of us have not had to face the threat of death even once for the cause of Christ. We do not yet know the difficulties that Paul encountered. But even if that should change, we should take heart; Paul has shown us the way to overcome. He was stoned near to death at least once.
Paul had very good friends. After he was nearly stoned to death, they surrounded him. They too could have faced stoning as well. When a mob begins to act in emotion, it is difficult to dissuade them from their course of action. Look at the recent mob activity in the United States of America. Once the mob engages in violence, then comes the fires, and the looting, the beatings of innocent people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It takes faithful friends to join you when the mob turns its full wrath upon you.
Continue to Contend
Most people, facing a near-death experience at the hands of an angry, murderous mob, would “take a hint” and go elsewhere. Scripture shows us Paul’s reaction: he went right back into the city to preach. That takes great faith and trust in God. In speaking about hardship, Paul said:
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Regardless of our circumstances, we should continue to contend for the faith. God will provide our strength as we are faithful in His service. We have no fear of this: whatever God calls you to, he will provide the means and resources for you to complete your tasks.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I being faithful even when I experience great trial?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You are faithful in all that You do. You keep every promise that You make, and do so in perfect timing and in Your methods. We know that we can count upon You to always be faithful. Strengthen me this day, Father, that I would show that same faithfulness to You, regardless of my circumstances. Help me to rely upon You totally and without reservation as trials come into my life. Help me in my weakness that You would be strong for me. Carry me when I cannot walk, and protect me from my adversaries. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.