And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?
Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. Acts 23:1-5
There is nothing like a whack in the mouth to bring out the ‘snake’ in us. That was what happened with Paul. This is one of the rare moments when the Apostle Paul is caught breaking God’s laws. He ‘spoke evil’ of a ruler of God’s people, which is against God’s law. Actually, Paul insulted the high priest. That was a sin.
Paul was caught off-guard, which was a very fortunate thing to happen to him. Why fortunate? Because it exposed a fault in him which he probably did not know existed.
In a moment of weakness Paul allowed the flesh to triumph. He gave place to his old anger.
But Paul was quick to repent and move on. His defeat was momentary. He hurriedly stood up, dusted himself, and moved on.
Some of us lie there for hours, days, years even, wallowing in the mud of self-pity, unforgiveness, hard-hearted denial, and pure pride. But God is not going to take a knife and prune back His standards just because we want to nurse our flesh.
I wonder if Paul was embarrassed by the exposure of his weakness. Maybe he was. But again, maybe he wasn’t. Paul was a man who rejoiced in his weaknesses – even the revelation of a fault on his part.
Not that Paul would rejoice in the anger that he manifested here; and yet, I am convinced that Paul was very happy to have any such a failing in him exposed.
It is the hardest thing for a person to admit their weakness. We scramble to hide our nakedness, just like Adam and Eve, our ancestors in the flesh, did. But that is not God’s nature. God is the Great Revelator – and I am not talking about visions and dreams. I am talking about Him revealing our failings, weaknesses, flaws and faults.
Paul knew something about God. He did not waste time thinking, “This can’t be! How can I be caught like that, a great preacher of the gospel like me?” I am aware that there are times when I got angry with God for allowing me to be caught in such ‘embarrassing’ situations. But I am ashamed because that has simply been human pride on my part.
On the contrary, Paul realized that he was only a man and if there was any perfection in him, it was all by the grace of God. He was happy to admit his humanity.
God has never tried to sweep anything under the carpet. He has never spared anyone, not even His best ones. He exposed them all! How much more will He expose us. The things we try our best to hide from people He says that one day He will cause them to be shouted from someone’s rooftop!
You might appear a simpleton by admitting your human-ness. But that is exactly what we should be doing. Jesus said we should be like children! Do you think children are embarrassed when they make mistakes? Hardly! They move on with life as if nothing has happened.
Let us stop being God. None of us is perfect. Only God is; and we are not God. Let us be simple folks like the Apostles were. In that way, we will have much grace upon our lives, for “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6