As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation." And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.
Was it not true what the woman was saying? And why wouldn't Paul like another member of the entourage?
A couple observations.
- Being this woman had some type of spirit in her, the way in which she was proclaiming the truth was probably with a tinge of spitefulness. Not of glad or happy proclamation - but more likely of vindictiveness.
- Everyone has their "limits" of tolerance. We read that Paul had been putting up with this woman for two days! Can you imagine that? Perhaps what is most amazing is that he put up with it for that long! It was right that Paul finally said, "enough" - and freed the woman.
What can be learned from this episode in the life of Paul? One key point is the name of Jesus Christ has great power. Use it and proclaim it. Another point is that how we speak truth matters greatly. To tell someone that the result of not believing in Christ will result in an eternity in darkness, with pride and spite in our voices will not be received as truth. It will be perceived as hate.
Lord, help us with broken-hearts proclaim your truths - knowing full well that we are benefactors of your grace and not proprietors of it.