Winning Without Firing a Shot, Part 2

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe … Philippians 2:14,15

I was recently sent a video in which a woman professing to be a Christian was bragging about the way she stood up for her rights. I cringed as I heard her relate her argument in a park with a police officer telling her the rules. She refused to comply, insisting the rules were unconstitutional. They may have been, (I’m not a constitutional lawyer.) but the way in which she defied this person just trying to do her job was, in my opinion, anything but Christlike.

I have heard a lot of people recently declaring, “I know my rights!” Maybe so, but I’m suggesting there’s more than one way to get that point across. We’ve all heard the snarky way. For a better way, let’s look at the apostle Paul, formerly “Saul.”

Saul was a Pharisee, a high-ranking member of the religious elite. He was also a Roman citizen with all the rights included with citizenship. He spoke multiple languages and knew both Jewish law and Roman law. If anyone was entitled to be arrogant, it was Saul. And yet we read that when Paul the convert was brought before the authorities, both Jews and Gentiles, he spoke respectfully, even to those who deserved scant respect. Here are just two examples:

When Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned after delivering a slave girl from a demon, they spent the night, not cursing their enemies, but singing hymns to God. (Acts 16) When an earthquake rocked the prison, liberating them, they didn’t declare “Told ya so!” and leave. They stayed, reassuring the terrified jailer, who was about to fall on his sword rather than face a Roman execution for letting his prisoners escape. The relieved jailer took the disciples out, fell at their feet, and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

This is the question every evangelical Christian is longing to be asked! What followed was the happiest of endings:

“At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.” (Acts 16:33-34)

The next day the magistrates decided to release Paul and Silas quietly. Paul pointed out that they were Roman citizens and had been beaten publicly and imprisoned without a trial, the “alarmed” magistrates publicly escorted them out and requested that they leave the city. (There’s no record of a lawsuit; Paul and Silas had more important things to do.)

Later in Jerusalem, some Jews stirred up a riot because of Paul’s teaching. When arrested by the commander of the Roman troops, (Acts 21:27-36) Paul asked him, “May I say something to you?” The commander was surprised to hear Paul speaking Greek, having assumed he was the leader of a terrorist group!

Who could blame Paul if in the heat of the moment he had retorted, “Boy, do you have it wrong!”? Instead, remaining respectful, he corrected the record and asked to speak to the crowd. In chapter 22 we read his testimony. As wrong as these people were, he told them his story humbly, admitting that he himself had been violently opposed to “the Way,” persecuting the followers to their death. Far from chastising the mob for their error, he identified with them, telling them honestly that he “was as zealous for God as any of you are today.” (vs. 3) He told them of his vision of Jesus on the Road to Damascus, being blinded by the light, and his conversion, about Ananias, a godly believer who spoke miraculous healing to his eyes and baptized him. The crowd listened up until that point, but when Paul said God was sending him to the Gentiles, the crowd turned on him.

Wanting to appease the mob, the commander ordered Paul to be flogged. See how Paul shrewdly but respectfully addressed the situation:

As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”

When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”

The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered.

Then the commander said,” I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.”

“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains. (Acts 22: 25 – 29)

Can you hear the respect and fear coming over them? Paul didn’t have to throw a tantrum. In fact, if he had behaved like a hysterical child, I’m guessing he would have been treated accordingly.

(For other events in Paul’s life, read the book of Acts.)

History says the other apostles were cruelly crucified, stabbed, burned, stoned, or clubbed to death. As a Roman citizen, Paul had the “privilege” of being beheaded.

To the world Paul may have been a “loser,” but in God’s Book, and in Paul’s own words:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – I Timothy 4:7

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we’re selfish people. We want our way. We feel entitled, but as sinners we deserve only death and hell. And yet You showed us grace, leaving heaven to die for our salvation. Open our eyes, and help us follow Your example, treating others with the same grace, in Your name. Amen.

38 thoughts on “Winning Without Firing a Shot, Part 2

  1. Amen. When I was struggling to find paid employment and did voluntary work, I loved what Paul said about volunteering. Volunteers and employees could be doing the same work; it’s just that volunteers don’t insist on their right to get paid!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Amen πŸ™πŸ½. Ann, you make such a good point here. Attitude and respect can make such a difference on the impact we as Christians can have on others.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is becoming more and more difficult to be Christlike. What are we teaching our children? Stand up for your rights! No one can tell you what you can’t do! This is the attitude our culture respects. Following in Jesus’ steps is counter to the culture more than ever before. May God give us the strength, courage, and grace to follow in His steps. Blessings, Annie!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for bringing up a very important point, Cindy. Our children are watching everything we do, and how we do it. There are definitely times when “We should obey God rather than men,” and that takes courage, but we still have a choice with our attitudes, and that’s where the battle is won or lost. It will either confirm that we’re completely relying on the Lord, or give away that we don’t quite trust Him to deal with our enemies.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I will, Keith. In fact, I pray daily for the Church in general that we’ll be wise, discerning, Christ-centered with right priorities, and acting in a manner worthy of the name of Christ. It would seem we have a long way to go … :/
      (Feel free to share this post and last week’s (Part 1) with that person.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If someone keeps flogging you, you are only human to get upset sooner or later. Especially when unfair treatment keeps recurring and you hope to fight against it. However, I totally agree with you – we should be able to disagree and share our beliefs calmly and with respect.

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  5. Yes, Lord, help us to set an example of you only!! We know what that looks like by being in your word, getting to know and love you immensely!!!πŸ™β€οΈ

    Great encouraging post Annie!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. More so now than ever, the people of the world witness rudeness, greed, selfishness, crass language, and lack of self-control–just about everywhere. We Christians ought to stand in bright-Light contrast with the kindness, generosity, selflessness, pure speech, and self-control that Jesus taught, as well as the apostles after him! We need to be ready to answer the question “why” too.

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