Paul and Silas were wrongly imprisoned. They were truly being persecuted for their faith. They had every right to be angry (perhaps they were), indignant, fearful. But in the middle of their unfair treatment, they began to sing hymns and praise God. I don’t believe this act was intentional. I don’t believe they thought, “If I praise God, He will deliver us” or “Let’s praise God to witness to these unbelievers”. No, I believe this praise was spontaneous and welled up from their very being. I believe the act of worship for Paul and Silas had become instinctive.
I notice something this morning as I read this that I had not really consider before. While they were having this Holy Spirit worship night, the other prisoners were listening. Jesus said to us “When the Holy Spirit come upon you, you SHALL be a witness.” We are a witness for God 24/7. We carry the Light of the world and people, whether we know it or not or whether they know it or not, are watching us. We ARE a witness. The question becomes, “What does our witness say?”
Paul’s and Silas’ witness that night said, “My God is good despite my circumstances. The joy in my heart doesn’t ebb and flow with my circumstances. When times seem dire, I choose to trust in my God because He is trustworthy, faithful, loving, all-powerful.” The world is not looking for people with perfect lives, they are looking for real people, with real problems who serve a real God.
The prisoners were listening. Perhaps something begin to happen in their hearts. Perhaps they began to desire this God Paul and Silas knew. Perhaps they longed for a Hope that would cause you to sing while enslaved. The bible doesn’t tell us but what it does say is that when the Holy Spirit moved, EVERYONE was set free.
Do you want to set the people around you free? Do you want to change your workplace, neighborhood, family? Live a life that points others to a Savior. Live a life marked with joy, with hope, with love. Live a life that says, “No matter what my circumstances, God is good!” The prisoners around you are listening.
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! (Acts of the Apostles 16:25-26 NLT)