Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Stigma Isn’t Guilt


Read: Acts 28

They said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer.” (v. 4)

Paul showed up in Rome after many adventures, only to find that local religious authorities hadn’t even heard of the controversy surrounding him. Acts closes with Paul under house arrest. But first, a short episode (vv. 1-11) shows us a deep-seated pattern in human behavior, and also the Bible’s characteristic response to that pattern.

The kindly Maltese were probably already inclined to believe that Paul, like the other prisoners who had washed ashore with him, was potentially dangerous. When a snake attacked Paul, it seemed to confirm their suspicions. We want to believe that “bad” people “get what they deserve.” Then when Paul shook off any fatal effect, the islanders deified him. This is the other side of the coin: we are always quick to believe in the supernatural goodness of those who…

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