(Acts 16:16-18 ESV) 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. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 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.
This passage of Scripture is so rich! I’ve lived long enough to know that, many times, life rubs us the wrong way! I’ve also discovered that as a defense mechanism, we often accept the presence of things that bother us most. After all, isn’t it more spiritual to learn to be content with our circumstances? No doubt, being content is a good thing, and is a sign of spiritual maturity but God doesn’t expect us to accept irritants that can and should be confronted and changed.
Sometimes victory is found in contentment–other times, it is found in confrontation.
Paul was going to the place of prayer when he was met by a young girl who had an evil spirit. She persistently followed them around shouting to the crowd, and drawing unsolicited attention to Paul and his team. SHE WAS ANNOYING! And, it wasn’t a one time thing. Scripture is very clear, “this she kept doing for many days.” Apparently, Paul had gotten used to her following him around, and was ignoring her so as to not lose his cool. But then…
“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.”
His level of frustration caused him to take action against the irritant. Sometimes we don’t take action because we fear that our actions will reflect negatively on us. At other times, it just seems easier to accept the irritation. But, let’s notice a few things…
- Paul was annoyed for the right reasons. (Kingdom work was being negatively impacted by the evil spirit)
- He directed his frustration properly. (Notice, his words were directed to the evil spirit, NOT the young girl)
- Although his frustration built up over time, he remained in control of his emotions; he responded appropriately at the right time. (His words reflected spiritual maturity, NOT fleshly instability)
What is irritating you? Is it something God is using to develop your character? (Remember Paul’s thorn in the flesh?) If it is a tool in the hands of the Creator, then contentment is the appropriate response. But, if your irritant is rooted in evil intent; if it is a conduit through which the devil is attempting to thwart your victory, then it may be time for you to get GREATLY ANNOYED and take authority over it.
BOTTOM LINE: Nothing will change until you become annoyed enough to do something about it.
PRAYER: Father, Your word says to be angry and sin not. By this, we are instructed to recognize the things that are working against us, and to put up a fight. Help me to channel my frustration properly; to use Your word as an offensive weapon that will stop the attack of the enemy. I want Your glory to be evident in my life. Let me be content when contentment is appropriate. Let me be spiritually violent when evil needs to be overcome. In Your name I pray… AMEN!