The “Fickleness” of Human Opinion

Please read the following paragraph from Acts chapter 28 and see what comes to your mind.  Paul and other shipmates have just landed on the island of Malta after their ship has been destroyed:

Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

One thing that might come to mind is that you don’t want to handle snakes!  I don’t recommend that either.  What comes to my mind when I read this paragraph this morning was the fickleness of man’s opinion.  When the snake initially attached itself to Paul, the natives thought he was a murderer.  However, when Paul did not die after he shook off the snake, their opinion changed to the point where they thought he was a god.  He went from murderer to god in a matter of minutes, in the minds of the natives.  There are many people in our world who have had this happen to them.  I think of Michael Jackson.  In the early 1980s he was the king of pop, on top of the world.  By the early 1990s he was a freak in the opinion of most people.  Look at how the opinion of Jerry Sandusky has changed in the past year…from long time coach/mentor/child advocate to pedophile.  There are also times more like what happened to Paul, where someone’s “approval rating” changes because of nothing he/she did.  Perhaps the opinion changes simply because of an accusation or because of a misunderstanding.

My point is that human opinion is very fickle.  The hero of today can be the goat of tomorrow…or vice versa.  But God’s opinion of man never changes.  Man is born a sinner, separated from God.  We are wicked, vile, selfish people, deserving of eternal judgment.  Yet, through Jesus Christ, we are made righteous.  We go from enemies of God to children of God.  We are radically changed in the eyes of God, even if the opinion of others might not change regarding us.  As we look at the lives of others, let’s not be too quick to judge them or form an opinion.  We rarely have all the facts of any situation and like these natives in Acts 28, we can be subject to having to change our opinion very quickly.  Rather, let us love one another and pray for one another and let the judging be the responsibility of an all-knowing, righteous and gracious God…..oh, and leave the snakes alone!


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