And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. ~Acts 28:5
All of us have different levels of pain tolerance. I remember, when I was in elementary school, the fear of getting a shot at the doctor’s office. The kind nurse would prepare for it by saying that it would be fast and I might just feel it a little bit. What a relief when, after I got the shot, I could say, “That didn’t hurt.” As a Christian, the world is watching us to see what hurts us. They are watching to see if we live as victors or victims.
We see a venomous bite.
“And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.” Paul was serving among the people at Malta. Unbeknownst to him, a poisonous snake was hiding among the wood that had been laid for a big bonfire. It bit him and sank its poisonous fangs into his hand. The Bible says that it fastened on his hand. First, all of us are susceptible to being snakebit. You can never anticipate when a poisonous viper might appear and bite you. Second, it fastened on his hand. The people saw it and knew that this venom from this snake worked fast in the bloodstream to kill its victims. Not only does it happen when you do not expect it, but it spreads in your bloodstream and disables you quickly. Be careful of being bitten by the poison of anger, bitterness, a critical spirit, hatred, and unforgiveness. Once it gets into your spiritual bloodstream, it will disable your effectiveness.
We see a virtuous believer.
Paul had spent over two weeks on a harrowing journey on the Mediterranean Sea in a dangerous storm. The ship was destroyed as it crashed on the rocks outside of Malta, but everyone on board survived as God said they would. Then, while still dripping wet, he got bitten by a snake. Through it all, Paul was steadfast in his faith, his spirit, his leadership, and his humility. Even when things get tough and we get hurt, we must resolve to be consistent, courageous, consecrated, and confident. Don’t let your faith diminish during a storm, when you’re dripping wet, or when you are unexpectedly bitten. How we prepare during the good times determines how we do during the tough times.
We see victorious behavior.
Paul demonstrated a sterling testimony as many eyes were looking at him. First, he shook off the beast into the fire. Shake off whatever fastens itself onto your hand. Second, he did not respond to his critics. The natives said that he got bitten because he was a criminal. They meanly said that he got payback for whatever bad he had done. Third, and so important: Paul was not hurt! They looked and saw that he was not swollen or had not fallen down dead. They looked a great while and saw no harm come to him. Don’t be a Christian who is easily offended, assumes the worst, thinks the worst of other people, or drops off the radar screen. Remember that people are watching to see what kind of believer you are.
We see the voluminous blessings.
God used this miraculous situation to give Paul an audience with Publius, the chief man of the island. Through this meeting, Publius' father was healed of a very bad intestinal disease, and hundreds of natives came to Paul for help. People were saved, and a church was established. Paul did not go to Malta with the intent of starting a church, but God put him there and used his circumstances to start it. God meant everything for good. In the end, God received glory because Paul did not let the circumstances make him a victim. Be a Christian who is fireproof, who is snake-proof, and who demonstrates no hurt when things get tough.
Have a resilient God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 1 Samuel 15-17