Acts 5: 22-42; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9” And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong”.
My heart is stirred as I read Acts 5:22-42. The Apostles had been arrested by the high priest (and some Sadducees) for preaching about Jesus. The Angel of God opened the prison doors and asked them to go back to the temple and preach. When the high priest had sent for them to be brought out, they were not found in the prison, so they were summoned and challenged; and of course, as usual, Peter gave a response.
Gamaliel (one of the council members) had given the council advice to leave the Apostles alone. But it would seem the high priest was bent on quenching their zeal, so the Apostles were beaten and commanded not to preach about Jesus anymore. It is important to note that the types of whips (or lashes) used back then was more brutal than what would be ordinarily used in our world of today (if any). Given the custom in those days, the Apostles were probably beaten in the presence of other witnesses (who may have mocked them as they groaned in pain) just to send the message home.
But the Apostles went rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for God’s glory! Probably still bleeding from the stripes they had laid on them. Wow! This just blew me off!
The Apostles have just stepped up the bar! It’s one thing to suffer for Christ and take it calmly, however painful. But it’s another thing to suffer for Christ and rejoice about it! More like celebrating the pain! Who does that (we ask)? The Apostles did. And here am I, struggling with the little sacrifices I’ve had to make for God – things like stepping out of my comfort zone, some inconveniences, denying the flesh, etc; these are nothing, compared to what the Apostles had to go through! Yet we carry the same light and mandate! I’m sobered by this thought!
We should all be challenged by this account in Acts 5. For the Apostles, there was no iota of self-pity, or discouragement; yet they were men of like passions. They had a Christ-like Spirit, a different perspective, a heavenly attitude, and a higher commitment!
The Holy Spirit has challenged me today. How many of us present-day Christians can truly and sincerely accept the things we have suffered (or will suffer) for Christ, talk less of rejoicing about them? Yet it is the same Gospel, and the same Holy Spirit given to us today. And if truly we share the same Gospel, no less is expected of us today.
Whatever we are called to bear (or suffer) in Christ’s name, be it little or great, God is encouraging us to step up the bar. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to empower us, and give us the grace not only to accept it (for Christ’s sake), but to rejoice over it; so that our light will shine before men, and our father in heaven will be glorified!
O for that flame of living fire,
Which shone so bright in saints of old!
Which bade their souls to Heav’n aspire,
Calm in distress, in danger bold.
Where is that Spirit, Lord, which dwelt
In Abraham’s breast, and sealed him Thine?
Which made Paul’s heart with sorrow melt,
And glow with energy divine?
That Spirit which, from age to age,
Proclaimed Thy love, and taught Thy ways?
Brightened Isaiah’s vivid page,
And breathed into David’s hallowed lays?
Is not Thy grace as mighty now
As when Elijah felt its power;
When glory beamed from Moses’ brow,
Or Job endured the trying hour?
Remember, Lord, the ancient days;
Renew Thy work; thy grace restore;
Warm our cold hearts to prayer and praise,
And teach us how to love Thee more.