Don’t Poke the Bear

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. – Acts 9:1-19

Elissa’s Main Mast | Galveston, TX | July 2019

I saw a bully today. It was sad. A strong and powerful man took on a young man and chided him in public.

I don’t know what will come of it. The bully should be challenged. Perhaps he has been. Perhaps he will be. We’ll leave that to God. God, after all, does great things when he brings down the mighty. That’s what Mary sang when she learned she would be the mother of the Son of God. She sang, “For he who is mighty has done great things. Holy is His name. He has brought down the mighty and filled the poor with good things” (cf Luke 1:46-55).

That’s also what happened to the bully Saul. He was large and in charge. He had all the power in the world – or so he thought. But that power proved of little value abasing the One he was persecuting. You see, he wasn’t actually persecuting just the people of God. He was persecuting Jesus the Lord. He would be confronted, cast down, and dethroned. That’s what happens to those who presume to use human power to get their way.

But James reminds us, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (cf. James 1:20). It may not be wise to poke the bear. But be sure of this. The bear will not always have his way. And while you may be inclined to think of someone else to apply this to, think rather of how you might be tempted to use human power to achieve your goals. Consider what it might look like to wait for God’s vindication, and trust yourself to him in all your ways.

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