Acts 18: Don’t kick a man when he’s down

Acts 18: Don’t kick a man when he’s down

Today’s blog title is a well-known adage that doesn’t get much “play” in modern society. Kicking a person when he’s down is standard operating procedure today.

The Jews in today’s reading would have done well to observe this practice (or non-practice), as it may have led one of their own to be more willing to leave their fold.

In Acts 18 we read of the conversion of Crispus, who served as the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth (v 8). Sosthenes, his replacement (v 17), later led a contingent of Jews to deliver Paul to the local authorities, but Gallio, the local proconsul, refused to hear their case.

Following this setback, the Jews beat Sosthenes in the sight of Gallio and the rest. (I know the NKJV text says the Gentiles did it, but the original text says otherwise.) The next (and only) time we read of Sosthenes in our Bibles is in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth: “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,” (1 Cor 1:1).

It appears the good influence of Paul and Crispus, (who is also mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:14), contrasted with the poor treatment by his Jewish brethren, helped Sosthenes leave Judaism and embrace the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Kicking a man when he’s down is antithetical to Christian life and disposition, regardless of the character of the one who is defeated. Folks who find themselves in such dire conditions are often ripe and receptive to the teaching of the gospel. Think of the power that the love of Christ can have on the heart of the defeated! Especially in view of the hoards who are waiting and willing to pile on!

Moreover, we must be careful how we treat our own in any defeat, especially when said defeat affects us personally, lest we drive them away into the fellowship of others. No doubt the Jewish leadership drove many into the loving arms of Jesus and sweet fellowship of His church.

I cannot help but think that the Jews’ boorish and brutal treatment of Paul actually had the opposite of its intended effect, as it served to make him love the Lord even more.

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