Read: Acts 21:17-36

See if there is any wicked way in me. (Ps. 139:24)

Paul wanted to preach in Rome for the same reason an actor wants to play Broadway—because it’s the biggest stage. But first he decided to visit Jerusalem. When Paul appeared in the temple there, he was attacked by a mob of people who thought he had violated its sanctity by bringing in a Gentile. The mob wanted to kill Paul on the spot. Maybe we should pause here and reflect on our own behavior.

These Jews believed they were contending for God. But what really drove them was racist hatred of Gentiles. When Paul defended himself to the crowd, they listened politely until he mentioned his call to reach the Gentiles; then their wrath erupted again (Acts 22:22). It is easy to convince ourselves that we’re defending the faith when we’re actually motivated by personal animosity. Notice, too, how easy it is to jump to a conclusion about someone’s guilt when we’ve already decided against them. Have you ever assumed the worst about a person based on appearances? My mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with the facts!

In his loyalty to God, the psalmist says, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? . . . I hate them with perfect hatred.” And then, as if he heard what he just said, the psalmist submits himself for inspection: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (vv. 21-24). Let’s all pray like that. —David Bast

Prayer: Pray Psalm 139:19-24.