As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people. And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:” (Acts 21:37-40)
The Jews were law-abiding people who believed righteousness, through sacrifice and keeping the Law, was their ticket to heaven. They didn’t think they had broken the ninth commandment telling them not to bear false witness against their neighbors because that only applied to Jerusalem Jews, people like themselves. They didn’t listen to Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan which taught a neighbor is anyone crossing our path.
Therefore, the commander believed the Jews when they said Paul had led four thousand murderers into hiding—until he questioned Paul. When Paul told him in Greek that he was a Roman citizen. I can imagine the commander was concerned that he had treated a Roman citizen unfairly and he could be punished for that offense or for letting a riot occur. God knew the commander would appease Paul and allowed the disorderly conduct.
If our lives were in danger, most of us would want someone to zip us to safety. Wouldn’t let God use us in chaos—wouldn’t tell people who sinned against us about Jesus, even though they might need Him the most. The truth is God creates circumstances to use us.
Father, I praise You for Your Holy Spirit who gives me power when my life’s a mess. Let me be like Paul and let You use me in the midst of chaos. You planned circumstances that show I’m weak so others can see me using Your strength. Keep me and my loved ones safe and bind us closer to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.