The Consequences Of Following Christ
But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice." The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. — Acts 16:19-24
This is a very thought-provoking text today, so stay with me.
If you remember from yesterday's devotional, Paul healed a slave girl possessed by a demonic spirit. But the issue with this was that her exorcism now absolved her owners of the income that came from her fortune-telling ability. We discover that this was their only concern because they are not celebrating her spiritual freedom but only the loss of income. And they're hacked off, so much so they launch a counterattack against Paul and Silas for healing her. They seized Paul and Silas, dragged them off to the civil authorities, and presented a false witness stirred by prejudice.
The result is that Paul and Silas are publically ridiculed, sentenced, beaten, and sent to prison. And in a couple of days when we get a little further down into the chapter, these owners and officials are going to be embarrassed for sentencing them. And you will have to wait to learn why.
There are three consequences of this moment that are potent reminders to us. The first consequence is that salvation is both liberating and costly. In this case, it liberated a girl of a demonic spirit and it cost her the source of her livelihood. And this is true for some people. Some people get saved and have to make radical adjustments to how they live and how they make a living mainly because the lifestyle and career enable corrupt behavior. The second consequence is that sometimes a person's salvation may impact someone else too. And as we see here, her deliverance had an impact on her owners, who could care less about her, or her healing, but only her income potential. The third consequence we see is an active preference for sin. Based on these owners' hateful response to Paul and Silas, we can deduce that they would have preferred living with a demonic girl because of the income that she brought. And when you think about this it sounds twisted. But many live and work in corrupt work environments because of the rewards of a lifestyle or income. The rewards provide security that they have not found spiritually. Therefore they are willing to abandon needed changes to their beliefs, character, and behavior because of rewards. And as we see that sometimes people will even go to great lengths to defend their position and protect their money over the blessing of spiritual freedom.
I think this short story clarifies for us all the cost of following Christ. That following Christ has both intended and unintended consequences. Some will celebrate these consequences, and others will criticize them. But this is just part of being a follower.
ASK THIS: What has been one consequence of your profession of faith in Jesus? (Share below).
DO THIS: Live in spiritual freedom.
PRAY THIS: God, give me spiritual freedom. And may my freedom persuade others to follow you as well.
PLAY THIS: Jesus, Friend of Sinners — Casting Crowns.
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