And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:23–25, ESV)
Today’s big question: how can praise help us share the gospel?
One of the most common accusations unbelievers have against Christians is that we are hypocrites. When our walk does not match our talk, the world sees through our façade and ignores us when we share the good news of salvation. All too often this happens because Christians fail to trust and rejoice in the Lord.
A trial comes into our life—whether it’s physical, financial, relational, or something else—and our first response is to worry. We quickly forget that the situation is completely in the hands of our caring Father who makes “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
You have probably never faced the kind of intense persecution Paul and Silas encountered in Philippi. After being severely beaten for sharing the gospel, these men were locked away in the inner prison. Sitting in the darkness with the blood and searing pain from the lashes still fresh on their backs, they certainly could have despaired. Instead, they prayed and sang praises to the Lord.
Praise is essentially the opposite of complaint. It requires us to take our eyes off our difficult situation and focus instead on the God who upholds us. Misery and self-pity cannot last in the light of who our God is and all the blessings He daily pours out on us. Paul later wrote the following to the Philippian believers:
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:14)
When people see us praising God despite our trying circumstances, they will be amazed and glorify God for it. Our testimony is validated when unbelievers see in us the peace, “which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8), because these virtues only come from God.
As a result of their godly attitude in the midst of this trial, God worked mightily through Paul and Silas. He used their testimony to affect the Philippian jailer to the point that he and his whole family believed in Christ.
Today’s big idea: praising God in all circumstances can powerfully impact our world.
What to pray: ask God to help you praise Him no matter what your situation may be.