Day 34: When You Know You are Right! (Acts 15:6-11)
Today’s Passage: Acts 15:6-11
Ever been in a situation and know, really know, you are RIGHT!
There are moments in my life that are seemingly seared into my memory.
One such event was when I was in a meeting where I knew I was right. My conduct and my speech were anything but graceful. Oh, I got my way, after what others might have concluded was a “blood-letting”.
After the meeting I was called into the office of a man who said, “Collum, good thing you were right, because son, they’re lining up for the day you are wrong, sooner or later you’ll be wrong, and I doubt even God will be able to help you on that day!”
Ouch. I walked out of his office knowing he was right. This was not my first meeting where I unilaterally gave myself permission to be a jerk. And while he was direct, he did not yell. He applied enough pressure to get me to listen.
I am thankful he took to the time to plant a seed of discontent in me. You see, that moment was before I knew Christ. I became more impatient with my impatience, and that was one of the situations that led to me searching for peace.
When you find yourself in situation similar, how do you behave?
My mind goes to this question because in today’s reading I am thinking about Paul.
Consider all that God has done through him. All sorts of people have come to faith in Jesus. There are works of power. Yet, there are people basically telling him he is wrong.
Let’s remember, Paul is humanly very smart. He knows the Law. Paul is also anointed by God.
I find his response interesting. He does not back down. He does however submit to authority. He goes to Jerusalem, to a council meeting (see 15:2).
If any of you reading today have ever worked in an organization of any size, you know that meetings, councils, committees, etc. exist. I wonder, do you expect them to actually bring about good decisions? Furthermore, given your view of Paul, do you think he has the patience for committee deliberations?
Consider, he allows Peter to speak. This same Peter who, days earlier, he opposed.
Peter’s speech is stunning. It proclaims Grace and Faith cannot be separated. Furthermore, his speech draws no distinction between Jew and non-Jew.
John Stott in his commentary on Acts writes: “Peter: ‘We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are’ (Acts 15:11). The central theme of Peter’s testimony was not just that Gentiles had heard the gospel, believed in Jesus, received the Spirit and been purified by faith, but that at each stage God made no distinction between us (Jew) and them (non-Jew), cf. 10:15, 20, 29; 11:9, 12, 17. Four times in Luke’s condensed report of Peter’s speech the theme of ‘us-them’ or ‘we-they’ is repeated. God gave the Spirit to them as to us (8) and made no distinction between us and them”. [Stott, John. The Message of Acts (The Bible Speaks Today Series). InterVarsity Press.]
Paul must have been encouraged. This is his message, in Gal. 2:16, “We know that a man (any man, Jew or not) is … justified … by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we too, (the Jew) have put our faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 2:16).”
I started this post with the question, “How do you behave when you KNOW you are RIGHT?”
You might be wondering how Paul is able to submit. Let me suggest he trusts God. He has been through a lot worse than some men arguing with him—he has been stoned—and God has seen him through it.
He has deeply planted the truth that all that happens in the world is under God’s purview. When you and I can live into this truth, we can find much freedom from the challenges and joys of life.
When you believe you are right and it seems as if others in control are wrong, can you let go enough to trust God?