Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Acts 16:16-24

In today’s reading we find Paul and Silas in Philippi being followed by “a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.” The girl was following Paul and Silas and proclaiming, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." After several days of this, Paul became annoyed and finally turned to the girl and said, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" and the spirit left the girl.

I feel to understand what Paul did, we have to understand a bit more about the times in which they took place. Fortune-telling was a common practice in Greek and Roman culture 2000 years ago. There were many superstitious methods by which people thought they could foretell future events, from interpreting omens in nature to communicating with the spirits of the dead. This young slave girl had an evil spirit, and she made her master rich by interpreting signs and telling people their fortunes. The master was exploiting her unfortunate condition for personal gain.

What the slave girl said was true, although the source of her knowledge was a demon. Paul and Silas were indeed servants of the Most High God and, in fact, were telling others how to be saved. Why did this annoy Paul? I would think that it is the connection of their message to a demon that really annoyed Paul. If Paul accepted the demon’s words, he would appear to be linking the gospel with demon-related activities, not to mention the prophecy-for-profit approach that this girl’s owners had taken. Such association would damage the message of Christ.

Today’s reading tells us that the way we deliver the message of Christ to others is just as important as the message itself. The good news is too important to be linked in any way to anything unscrupulous. Now I know this might seem obvious, but it is helpful to me to constantly remember this. It reminds me of the old saying, action speaks louder than words.

Wishing you the best in your walk with Christ,
Richard Leach

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