16:16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.
But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” 22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Now we have more evidence that Paul acted out of sympathy for the girl rather than for selfish reasons. Had it been because he was annoyed he could have just demanded the demon to keep silence. He also could have said "Go away" but instead he was very specific. He told the demon to come out of her. He wanted her to be free knowing it was going to cause a world of hurt for himself and it certainly did. This girl was a slave and her value to her owner was in her connection with the spirit world. Freeing her from their presence essentially rendered her useless in the eyes of her owner. No longer could he charge people to come to her to find out their future etc... He was understandably angry and not about to let it go.
It's actually a smoke screen when we say wars are fought over religion. Wars are fought over money. Trace the $$$ and you'll find the root cause of nearly every conflict. On the surface men are forced to say a war is about religion or freedom or a violation of rights or a threat of terrorism but trace the situation to the core and it's inevitably $$$ nearly every time. The man lost his cash flow and complained to the authorities about religion and a violation of Roman customs.
That's an aside to the real point here. The real point is that the freedom of that girl came at a price. It always comes at a price. It was a price she couldn't pay. She was a slave and had no way to free herself. Paul had been a slave. A slave to bad religion. A slave to nationalism, pride, and prejudice. His slavery lead him into systematic murder. Now he was free. His freedom was obtained by Someone else. It came at a great cost. Now that he was free the passion of his life was setting others free. Freedom always comes at a high price but love never counts the cost. For Paul her freedom meant more than saving himself from beatings and prison and she was a stranger to him! Love knows no strangers and has no favourites.
Yesterday I sat eating my lunch watching a small group of homeless people in downtown Grande Prairie. I have seen them several times. I don't know their story but my heart is getting more grieved every time I see them. It annoys me that I have so much while they have so little. It pains me that I am free while they are enslaved. I don't know yet what to do but I have to do something and by God's grace and wisdom and power I will.
"Whatever you have done for the least of these you have done for Me." - Jesus