Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Paul's Gift to the Unbeliever/Enemy

They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus,who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit,looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”
Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord. (Acts 13:6-12)

It is interesting here that if Jesus' words concerning one's enemies included those who do not believe, then Paul is actually sinning here by cursing his enemy. 
In fact, Paul does this on another occasion and only stops himself once he realizes he is speaking against a leader of his people (Acts 23:1-5).
Furthermore, isn't Paul supposed to give some physical resource along with the gospel to demonstrate God's goodness? Instead, here, he takes away a pretty important resource, i.e., sight, from the unbeliever/enemy, and ironically, this harsh act causes the pagan proconsul to believe. 
In other words, the severity of God upon His enemies causes the pagan to believe, not Paul offering up some physical benefit to God's enemies.

Is this loving one's enemies and doing good to those who hate you? 
If Paul were to have cursed someone today and brought blindness upon them, I imagine social gospel advocates would have a fit and attempt to remove him from ministry. Not only is he not giving a needed physical resource to an unbeliever, but he is actually taking it away. 

That's because his real gift is the gospel. His gift is risking his life to preach the gospel to unbelievers everywhere. I pray that we can replicate such faithfulness in our own proclamation of Christ as Lord.

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