Today’s challenge to our faith comes from Acts 28. It is an amazing story involving a poisonous snake and Paul. They had just come ashore safely after being shipwrecked. They were wet and cold. Here is the scene on the island of Malta.
Acts 28:3-6 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
Paul was simply putting sticks onto the fire when he was bitten. He was living life on his way to Rome as a prisoner. What do you think went through his mind? Certainly not panic as there is no indication from scripture that he even gave it a thought. He simply brushed the snake off into the fire. Those around him were sure the poisonous snake bite was a judgement for wrongs he had done. When he did not die, they had to come up with another theory and decided he must be a god. Paul later refuted their thoughts and spoke of Jesus. Because of how he had lived, they were willing to listen to what he had to say.
What actions of the world are you putting off, casting away as you seek to live each day for the Lord? Do you reject enticing entertainment, reject getting involved in gossip or do you seek to serve the Lord before your career? There are many ways we can put off the worldly pursuits and stay focused on what God wants us to do. Paul’s mind was on his trip to Rome and facing Caesar. But, he took time to heal the sick on Malta and tell those around him about Jesus before they sailed again.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can remain focused on him in this sin-filled world and proclaim His good news. Where is your focus today? On the viper’s bite and the harm that can come to you? Or on the hope you have in Jesus? Who do you need to tell about Jesus today? Where do you need to add fuel to the fire and build up someone who needs the warm fire of Jesus’ love? Don’t be afraid of the vipers. God promises to deal with them.