Summary: Sometimes God calls us to surrender our rights for the benefit of his kingdom.
1. Three violin manufactures have all done business for years on the same block in the small town of Cremona, Italy. After years of peaceful co-existence, the Amati family decided to put a sign in their shop window saying: “We make the best violins in Italy.” The Guarneri family soon put a sign in their window proclaiming: “We make the best violins in the world.” Finally, the Stradivarius family posted this sign outside their shop: “We make the best violins on the block.”
2. Most of us know people we would consider smart, but there is another type of quality that we also should appreciate: being shrewd.
3. Although some people use the term “wise” and “shrewd” as synonymous, being shrewd suggests thinking a few steps ahead. Whereas someone who is wise makes good choices, someone who is shrewd outfoxed another as above, or focuses more on outcomes and sometimes creative ways to achieve those outcomes.
4. When Secretary of State Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska, it was labeled as “Seward’s folly.” Wisdom said spending that money for icy property was a waste, but Seward thought of the long-term benefit that future generations would enjoy.
5. Pouring water on trees during a forest fire would be wise, but controlled burning where the fire is heading to set a stopping point for an out-of-control fire is shrewd.
6. Giving up something for a long term benefit can also be shrewd.
Main Idea: Sometimes God calls us to surrender our rights for the benefit of his kingdom.
Let’s answer some questions — three short answers and one longer one — to better see this principle in action. Points 2 and 3 are very short, BTW.
I. HOW did Paul become a Roman citizen?
A. By BIRTH (Acts 22:28)
The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.”
Roman citizens were not allowed to be tortured and could only be beaten after proven in a court that they were guilty of a crime.
B. Often AWARDED for outstanding service to the Roman government.
Best theory: Paul was a tentmaker, and trades were usually passed down in the family. Perhaps his father or grandfather made exceptional tents for the Roman troops and was awarded citizenship for this.
C. God often prepares US to serve Him, even generations back!
Henry Morris was the chairman of the Dept. of Civil Engineering at Virginia Polytech. When he launched the modern creationist movement in 1960, his background helped gain an audience he would not have had otherwise.
Things unique about you & heritage. How can God use this for you to serve Him?
II. How could Paul PROVE his Roman citizenship?
A. A wooden plaque that served as a DOCUMENT or another document.
B. Might this be FORGED?
C. The penalty for possessing a forged “proof of citizenship” document was DEATH.
• Why would one claim citizenship after being beaten and released?
D. Believers can be found at all LEVELS of society.
—you may find believers in bad churches, important posts & demeaning jobs
III. Why didn’t Paul present his Roman citizenship BEFORE being beaten?
A. Perhaps no OPPORTUNITY
B. Perhaps for reasons of STRATEGY
C. Perhaps under DIRECTION from the Holy Spirit
IV. How did this injustice SERVE kingdom purposes?
A. Paul left with DIGNITY, but was this pride or STRATEGY?
Matthew 10:16, ““Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
B. Have you ever considered that God may call you to surrender your RIGHTS?
—To leave your rights “unclaimed?”
When we surrender our rights for the Lord, we do it out of strength, not weakness,; for a purpose. By being in church, e.g., we surrender some free time as far as the world is concerned; but we are slaves of Jesus Christ, & the world’s “rights” oppose…
The world tells us we are entitled, God tells us we are blessed by His grace, not something we are owed…
1. Just because you have a right to something does not automatically mean you should take advantage of that right. God often calls us to do what the world says we don’t have to do.
2. Paul took no pay for his services, although he defended the right for those making their living from the Gospel (I Corinthians 9:14).
3. Paul took a beating and abuse he perhaps could have evaded, probably to benefit the new believers in Philippi he left behind. Gain clout.
4. On the one hand, we need to stand against those who would rob us of our rights; the weak do enslave themselves. I have known people-pleasing individuals who need to learn to stand up for themselves.