29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
Do you think that jailer was kind and gentle yesterday when he took Paul and Silas from the rioting mob and locked them up in shackles in the most inner room of the prison? I doubt it.
Yet here we are, hours later, and Paul and Silas have a chance to show that jailer great mercy. Not only are they showing him mercy in sticking around and not running off, but they are preaching the Gospel to him and his family. He is bringing a relationship with God into their broken relationship of jailer and prisoners.
That jailer’s punishment would be death if he let any prisoner go free. Instead, Paul and Silas save his life by not leaving.
That jailer knew that there was some greater power going on here. Was it in these men or in their gods? He didn’t know. He knew that he was at their mercy.
When we get mad at people, let’s flip the story. Instead of brooding for days about how we could get back at them — instead of coming up with great comeback lines that would really put them in their place. What if we daydreamed and then prayed that God would transform their lives? (Maybe I’m the only person that gets mad about stupid stuff and holds on to it for too long?)
What if that jerk-faced punk you had a conflict with yesterday came to you today asking “What must I do to be saved?” Are you ready? It doesn’t take a lot of preparation or training to show mercy.
Or maybe you are the punk and today you want to reconcile. You might not fall down in front of your adversary, but it would be good to be humble. Even then, you get to show mercy, because they might not be ready to show you the mercy you’re looking for.
The truth is, our chains of slavery to sin have fallen off and we can walk freely around anyone who has sinned against us. We have mercy in abundance to share. And it’s in seeing us show that mercy that our onlookers will believe that it’s real.
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