Here we go, digging a little deeper into the passage of Acts 28. In verse 3, Paul is bitten by a viper – and it just hangs on to his hands. The natives watch and start the judgement. They think he must be a really bad guy – he survived a shipwreck but justice caught up with him. I guess they don’t realize he was the reason everybody survived. Oh well. So what do they do, they stop what they’re doing and just hang around to watch him. They are waiting for him to swell up and die.
Can you imagine? You are the entertainment. Everybody stops what they are doing and just stares, expecting a show of death – your death. And they are basically saying you deserve this snake bite. What happened to the hospitable natives that were helping just a few minutes ago?
Now Paul doesn’t give them what they want. He shakes the snake off and goes on about his business. And he lives. They are so confused now. They think he is a god.
Now scripture doesn’t go into any deeper details – but I can imagine Paul doesn’t let the moment pass by without telling them of the message of real healing – healing from sin and death – the healing provided through the love of the one and only true God.
Let’s bring this forward two thousand years. Just tonight I was watched and judged as well. I work at a hotel that has a bar – a bar that is connected to the front desk, just mere feet away. Even though I work at the front desk, I do not serve alcohol. This is by choice and management knows my reasons. I always try to show humility. And, I normally don’t even go in to the reasons, I just get another guest service personnel to help the guest.
Tonight, a lady was not appreciative of my choice and was very blatantly expressing her displeasure with loudness and salty language. She then quickly moved to statements like ‘you sound like those judgmental religious people,’ (She did not know I am a pastor) and ‘if you work here you need to do what I ask’ and ‘you are just like those that spread hate and they need to go away.’ Basically, I realized this was not a scenario I would do any help discussing (alcohol had a play in this too) so I just remained quiet and got my coworker to assist her.
Now, the part I regret was not my reaction to this delightful guest. I received her judgment, smiled, and just had to shake it off (See Acts 28.5). My regret is the comment I made to my coworker about this woman. It was a bit snappy. It wasn’t as graceful as I know I should have been. You see, my coworker DOES know I am a Christian, and my comments were not an Ephesians 4.29 type of response. They were not vile or coarse, but they weren’t filled with grace and compassion either.
You see, I do not know if this coworker knows Christ. I know she does not have a high view of the church – and I did not help that. I asked for her forgiveness and she made a polite response, but that does not excuse my comments.
Yes I am human, yes I was tired (just got off a 2800 mile 5 day trip), yes it is …. you know, it doesn’t matter. There are NO excuses. People are watching and we need to be diligent to live lives that honor God. We need to speak words that spread grace on the hearers.
So, coworker, if you are reading this, again, please forgive me.
Now you, my other readers. When it comes to your actions, words, Tweets, FB posts, IG pics, etc – live a life knowing people are watching. Because they are. What are they seeing and hearing? May God be glorified in all of it.
Let’s do this again tomorrow. Be blessed.