One of the hardest lessons to teach children is that sometimes when you do what’s right, people won’t like you for it. In fact, some may actively attack you, your efforts, and your basis for standing up for what’s right. Children, in general, like to please others. Therefore, they run into a conflict. Doing what’s right should please folks, right? Then why are some people so angry, to the point where they would do harm? There are a multitude of reasons. They all reveal the unfairness of this world.
As we grow up we come to understand just how unfair the world is. There are a lot of folks who attempt to do the right thing and pay for it. People who consistently do what’s right should be rewarded and those who choose to do wrong should be punished. The reality is we often see folks do wrong and get away with it. Worse, they advance in whatever it is they are pursuing.
We must expect that this will be the case, especially when our doing right impacts another person. It should not deter us from doing what is right. However, we should expect the consequences:
As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants[e] of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. – Acts 16:16-18, ESV
Paul and Silas were being followed (stalked) by a lady who was possessed by a spirit. Because she had that spirit, she was capable of telling the future and of revealing facts that would otherwise be unknown. As you might expect, since she was a slave girl that meant the owners of the girl made some coin off of her. This girl was being disruptive to Paul and Silas’ ministry. Eventually, Paul, who had tried stay out of a fight he could avoid, finally commanded the spirit out of the girl.
If you read the verses that follow in Acts 16, you’ll find that such an act resulted in the owners going to the authorities. Paul and Silas were then thrown into prison. Did Paul do the right thing? Yes. Was what he did okay with God? Absolutely. He invoked Jesus’ name when he asked the spirit to leave the girl and God answered. Was what Paul did okay with the slave girl’s owners? Absolutely not.
The question we can’t answer is whether or not Paul knew about the consequences. Likely he believed something negative would happen. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have held back casting out the spirit. Yet that did not deter him when he made the decision to act.
We must be of the same mindset. When we know something is the right thing to do and it’s our time to do it, we should expect the backlash. However, we should not let the likelihood of backlash deter us. Better to be right with God and wrong with the world than the other way around.