This was no time for Paul to be tolerant or passive. We live in a culture that virtually deifies tolerance. One lady recently said to me with a broad grin, “I love everybody; I even love the devil.” I call that “tolerance gone to seed.” Make no mistake, we’re not to love the devil, nor are we to love everything everybody does. Christ commands us to love people, even our enemies, but that doesn’t mean we shrink from standing up for righteousness.
Paul didn’t back off an inch. I can see the hair stiffening on the back of his neck as he showed his spiritual teeth and growled,
“You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand.
When he had to be firm, he stepped up. The result was magnificent. Stunned by the obvious display of God’s power and Paul’s emboldened response, the pagan official believed, and we can almost see the door to the Gentiles opened wider.
You may face similar opportunities to confront enemies of truth. They come in a number of different forms. Some are more insidious than others. My advice, when the opposition against the truth is this severe, based on Paul’s model, is that you confront it. Leave the results with God. Step up and speak out in the name of the Lord. Be certain of His protection. Don’t rush in. Pray for wisdom in the choice of your words before saying anything, and then speak boldly. The results may not be as dramatic as what happened in Cyprus, but the Lord will honor your faith. The few times I’ve had to stand this firmly against wrong, the Lord gave me a sense of near-invincible courage.
When you stand for God, you stand with God. He’s got your back. So you can stand with confidence.