July 1, 2014
READ: Acts 28:1-10
The people . . . changed their minds and decided [Paul] was a god (v.6).
A hazy morning at a harbour. Chalky, grey mist shrouds the boats, but a peach-coloured sunrise warms the scene. Claude Monet captured this scene in his masterpiece Impression, Sunrise. Created in 1872, this painting was not well-received. French critic Louis Leroy slammed the painting as little more than a sketch that could barely be considered a finished work. Over time, however, opinions within the art world changed. Today, historians credit Monet’s harbour scene with having sparked the Impressionist movement.
People’s opinions change—sometimes drastically. Paul experienced this when he and his fellow travellers ran aground on Malta (Acts 28:1). The locals welcomed them by kindling a fire. Paul gathered sticks to help, but as he placed the branches onto the blaze, a poisonous snake fled the flames and latched onto his hand. The islanders viewed this as divine payback for some terrible crime they supposed Paul had committed. They “said to each other, ‘A murderer, no doubt!’ ” (v.4). But their opinion of Paul changed when he didn’t die from the viper’s venom. They then “decided he was a god” (v.6).
People often form impressions based on incomplete information. We draw faulty conclusions, and our judgements change. As Paul experienced at Malta, the opinions we form are fickle and fleeting. Jesus was celebrated as king on Palm Sunday and then crucified as a criminal on Friday (Matthew 21:9, 27:22). Unlike God’s wisdom, our flickering opinions are not to be trusted.
Instead of jumping to conclusions (1 Corinthians 4:3-5), it’s much wiser to take time to prayerfully bring our first impressions to God. He alone has the true view of each heart and circumstance. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt
365-day plan› Matthew 6:1-18
Read Joshua 22:9-34 and consider what almost happened when some Israelite tribes jumped to a false conclusion.
How concerned are you with others’ opinions of you? How can you be more godly and careful in your opinions of others?