“Therefore in this present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38-39
On more than one occasion, the council of high priests had Peter and John imprisoned for teaching in Jesus’ name. In this passage, the high priests were “filled with jealousy” (5:17) at the large numbers of people drawn to the apostles; thus they persecuted the apostles and put them in prison. Of course, the high priests perceived this following as admiration for the apostles themselves; hence their jealousy. Would throwing them into prison stop their momentum?
Overnight, an angel of the Lord releases the apostles from prison, unbeknownst to the guards outside the door. When the apostles are seen the next day preaching in the synagogue, the Sanhedrin launches an investigation only to learn that the doors to their cells remained securely locked. Peter and John are called before the Sanhedrin, which orders them to stop preaching in Jesus’ name. Their reply? “We must obey God rather than men.” (5:29) Oh, that I would have that brand of courage!
At least one of the high priests recognized that there was something different about the apostles’ ministry and was moved to reprimand his brethren on the Council. As their pride clouded their judgment, he reminded them that human effort cannot defeat God’s will – but human effort, based not on God’s will but on selfish intent, will ultimately fail. If the apostles’ ministry truly originated from God, even the powerful high priests would not be able to stop it. With that, the high priests had the apostles flogged and sent them on their way.
Pride is an ugly thing. It causes us to look inward, to exalt ourselves when we really should be exalting God and trusting only in Him. Pride clouds our judgment; it distracts us from God’s purpose for our lives. Pride can infect all of us – even those in high positions within the church. The psalmist wrote, “How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.” (Psalm 40:4) As I seek to build my ministry I must constantly be mindful of pride – this isn’t about me; it’s about Him.
Ponder this: God’s purpose will prevail over the purposes of men. How often do I react to situations and circumstances without prayer or thought, only to wonder why things go wrong? When does human pride shift my focus from my Heavenly Father to myself?
My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, If you are willing, I want to be an apostle. I want to witness for Christ. More than anything, I want to do Your will. Open my eyes to see and my ears to hear. Rid me of human pride and give me a sincere spirit and a willing heart, O God. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.