“Felix… gave orders that he should be kept in custody… After some days [he]… sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. As he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.’ At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. Desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison…
“Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, ‘There is a man left prisoner by Felix, and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders… [asked] for a sentence of condemnation against him… But… I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar…’ Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar…’
“When it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. Embarking in a ship of Adramyttium,.. we put to sea… The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board.” Acts 24:22-23a,24-27; 25:14b-15,21; 26:32; 27:1-6
Over his years being misunderstood, persecuted, and detained, Paul did not languish, but took every opportunity to tell of Jesus and challenge others to respond. He honored his Lord, certainly suffering as God had ordained, but counting every hardship a privilege. In turn, the Lord kindly ministered to him through a Gentile centurion named Julius. Named here only twice, we do not know his measure of faith, nor what compelled him to do what he did, but we know God provided him for Paul, and his thoughtful, compassionate kindness live on as a model for us in caring for those in hard places. (Acts 9:16; 2 Corinthians 6:4-5; Philippians 1:29; 3:10; 2 Timothy 4:5)
The Lord assigns all sorts of situations and positions of authority and influence, and in each one, we can choose to be kind. Gratefully comprehending Christ’s merciful love toward us compels us to extend His tender heart to others. Exhibiting His love to those within the Body ministers holy balm, and shines as a magnetic light to the outside world. Exercising kindness to those who know not Christ offers a taste of His sweetness, ofttimes to their surprise. (John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 2:4-7; 4:32; Colossians 3:12)
Where can we be a Julius? How attentive are we to recognize opportunities? What significant acts of kindness will we do today to lighten someone’s load, give comfort or cheer, or supply a practical need? Have we so packed our days that we have no margin to step up or go out of our way for others?
Lord, may I daily and deliberately extend Your kindness to others, that they may be drawn to love and serve You.