Acts 16:28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
Acts 16:28 is what Paul yells to the guard that had been watching him and Silas during their imprisonment.
I would like to point out that they were imprisoned for helping a demon posed girl.
And so you don’t skim over this, Acts 16 mentions that they were severely flogged, thrown into prison and then chained up.
Probably not a good day in anyone’s book.
But through all of this, they prayed and sang praises to God.
I know myself well enough to say that that is probably the last thing I would have been doing.
I might have said a few “Christian cuss words” complained about the beating I just got and would make sure to note that it wasn’t deserved. The guards and the other prisoners would have to hear about my rights and why I shouldn’t be there.
And I wouldn’t stop there.
God would get an ear full because after all, I was doing His work. So why did He allow this to happen?
Addicted To Self-Preservation
So why is my response so different to Paul’s?
It’s because I am addicted to self-preservation. And I would guess that many of you reading this would have acted more like me than Paul if you’re honest with yourself.
My tendency is to not rock the boat.
Don’t offend anyone – don’t risk too much – don’t give too much – don’t look too radical.
The desire I have to keep things the way they are influences how I act and react.
How I act:
I spend more on things that add to my comfort. My energies are primarily spent on keeping maintaining a certain lifestyle and appearance.
How I react:
I get upset when things go bad. God isn’t supposed to let me experience any weakness, insults, hardships, persecution or difficulties. If He does, I get angry, depressed, and want to hide from Him.
These actions and reactions show that my heart’s affection is in a completely different place then Paul and Silas.
My guess is that you can relate to these actions and reactions. If not, maybe you’re the one perfect person God left on earth to keep a check on all of us sinners!
Addicted to God glorification
While Paul and Silas were praying and singing, all the doors of the prison were opened due to a violent earthquake. They could have run out and escaped before the guard even knew what had happened.
But they didn’t.
This is why this statement is so glory filled.
Paul and Silas instead stayed and yelled out to the guard “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
These two men of God were more concerned with God glorification than self-preservation.
They understood that their actions could lead to only one explanation.
Jesus is worth more than life.
And if they stayed they could share that message with the guard of that cell. Which they did and not only was he saved but also all of his family. I am sure God was glorified by that.
The road less traveled
I believe Jesus had this kind of lifestyle in mind when He said,
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Most people will not sign up for this kind of Christianity.
People want a Christianity that offers comfort, safety, prosperity and a no downpayment.
Christianity has become more about what we can get than what we can give.
The same Jesus that said,
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
What does your Christianity look like?
So would you say that you are following the path that Jesus intended or a more cushy version?
Paul and Silas picked up their cross in the jail cell that night and died to the need for self-preservation and the followed Jesus down a road less traveled that led to the salvation of sinful man and his family.
What are the voices in your head saying right now?
Why would anyone choose to live that way?
God would never call me to do that?
God give me the grace to live that way.
Give me the courage to pick up my cross and follow you.
Are you choosing self-preservation or God glorification?
Is picking up your cross part of your daily routine?