How To Suffer & Be Vindicated
But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, "Let those men go." And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace." But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out." The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. — Acts 16:35-40
This had to be a very concerning and embarrassing moment for the civil authorities in Philippi. They had rushed to judgment by the persuasion of a couple of vindictive people, and now it would come back to bite them in the butt. For they discovered that two men they have rushed to judge, beat, and imprison were Roman citizens. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, and because he was Jewish, they wrongly assumed he was not a Roman. And Roman citizenship came with certain rights. One of them was a right to a fair trial, which didn't occur. Why Paul held on to this information until now is a mystery, but it wasn't a delightful discovery for the Roman civil authorities. And they do offer an apology and encourage them to leave the city.
One lesson we could take away from this occurrence is this. There will be some moment in our life that we will suffer injustice at the hands of vindictive people who protect themselves by slandering us. And we may end up taking a beating because of their lies. But as godly men, we have a responsibility to continue to act with godly integrity through the unfair allegations and beating. And the beating we endure may end up scarring us. I am sure Paul was left with physical and emotional scars forever. But when a godly man continues to persevere in godliness even when treated unjustly, God will vindicate him — now or in eternity. This does not mean the process is not terrifying, troubling, harmful, or hurtful. But this process does bring a man a little closer to something unique — the unjust suffering endured by Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross.
Just listen to what Paul says to the Philippian church a little later when he writes a letter to them from a Roman prison. There is no doubt he remembered this Roman beating, as did the disciples in Philippi.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. — Philippians 3:8-10
Today do one of two things for me. First, either recall a moment you suffered injustice and what you would have done differently. And if you are brave, share that lesson and what you would have done differently in the comments below. Second, if you are going through that season right now. Literally right at this moment. Share it with the Lord and ask him to give you godly perseverance. I know this is never easy, but choose godliness and not your own vindication. Let God vindicate you. He's just better at it anyway.
ASK THIS: What lessons have you learned from suffering injustice? (Share below).
DO THIS: Continue in godliness even in unjust suffering.
PRAY THIS: God, I need your help in my season of suffering. I have or currently am suffering at the hand of injustice by an unfair system. Would you please give me the strength to remain godly? Please vindicate me and make right the injustice against me.
PLAY THIS: You Are My Strength.
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