Respect is priceless.

Acts 27:9–12

Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.

While God occasionally gives Paul supernatural vision, most of the time his vision is regular Christian eyes. This time, it’s the latter. He’s right when he says, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss,” but wrong about, “not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” This error shows that this was merely a case of conventional wisdom.

But Paul will ultimately have absolute credibility with everyone on the ship. When, in verse 24, Paul recounts what the angel said—“Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you”—they take it as gospel.

The whole ship, especially the centurion and the soldiers, end up obeying Paul’s every command (in 27:31–32. 34–38, and 42–44). That saves their lives.

This illustrates an important rule in how to use Christian eyes—credibility is essential. In a sense, Paul has successfully evangelized the whole ship. Even if he hasn’t preached the gospel yet (as if) he has already done a terrific job of preparing the soil.

Credibility can be a valuable enhancement in the presentation of the gospel. Your Christian eyes can get people’s attention by themselves, but having earned their respect in advance is priceless.

This is one reason charity is so important. Christianity has been associated with charity for 2,000 years. It’s been our signature characteristic. Even people who didn’t like Christianity at least respected it.

We need to get back to that.

Of course, credibility isn’t the only reason charity is important. God’s glory is a bigger reason.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” — Matthew 5:14–16

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. — James 1:27

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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