Throughout today’s reading and yesterday’s reading as well, we are told of the arrest and imprisonment of the apostle Paul while in Israel. He testifies before several different people in authority before eventually being sent to Rome to presumably face Caesar. He spends as much as two years in jail under Felix’s watch.
Why did God allow Paul to be in chains for so long before ultimately going to Rome to spend even more time in jail until his death? I am certain this time was not without purpose. One key from this passage that stands out to me is found in chapter 26, beginning in verse 25:
“I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
Paul was afforded opportunities to influence high ranking officials that he likely would not have had were it not for him ending up in chains. He had those same opportunities in Rome. And as we know, Rome eventually became the center of the Christian world. It wasn’t until 313 AD, however, that the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which accepted Christianity: 10 years later, it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. So it took a while after the death of Paul (approximately 62-64 AD), but I believe the two are linked.
We have had many opportunities ourselves to influence people by our actions and by our words. Some of these times have been very intentional, as when we try to minister to someone, or very unintentional, as when perhaps someone we don’t even know notices something different about us because of our faith.
Sometimes, if we are lucky, we get to see some of the impact we can have on others. But more often than not, we will never know what fruit our actions and words will bear in others.
But that’s OK. All we can do, much like Paul, is to do the best we can, and then allow God to develop the seeds that we have spread. One thing is certain though. You have to plant seeds in order for them to grow. What are you doing to plant seeds in others? Do something! Be an encourager. Share your faith. Or just be really kind to others. You never know what kind of amazing impact you can have, even if you don’t see it.
Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 24-26.
Tomorrow, we finish Acts – chapters 27-28.