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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, August 9, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Acts 22:30–23:11

Since he wanted to find out what Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet. He brought Paul down and had him stand before them.

While Paul was looking intently at the council he said, “Brothers, up to this day I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God.” Then the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near him to strike him on the mouth. At this Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting there to judge me according to the law, and yet in violation of the law you order me to be struck?” Those standing nearby said, “Do you dare to insult God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I did not realize, brothers, that he was high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a leader of your people.’ ”

When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angel or spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) Then a great clamor arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees’ group stood up and contended, “We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks.

That night the Lord stood near him and said, “Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.” (NRSV)

The acts of the Apostles, especially those of Paul, are my “aha moment.”

To clarify, Paul the Apostle was once the biggest persecutor of followers of Jesus—until he had an “aha moment” on the road to Damascus. It was in that moment that his life was fundamentally changed, yet he remains Paul.

When I read this passage from Acts, I like to believe it is Paul saying, “Yes and let me call you out and then back into community.” It makes me think of the person I was five, ten, fifteen, even twenty years ago. I hold so much against myself—I think we all do—and Paul in his testimony to the council points out the hypocrisy of that mentality: “Are you sitting there to judge me according to the law, and yet in violation of the law you order me to be struck?” Paul calls them out so that he may call them back into community without holding their judgments against them.

This is a valid lesson I think we all can take from Paul’s “aha moment.” People are going to hold things against you, even yourself, yet those judgments do not rule over your life if you come to the situation having repented and with a clear conscience.

Eternal and steadfast God, your glory and honor comes first in our lives. Help us to see our “aha moments” for what they are—chances for growth and an instance to be called back into community, not only with ourselves but with others. Loving and ever-faithful Lord, aid us on our journey to release judgment from our hearts. We pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Written by Quantisha Mason, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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