More Than Conquerors - Dave Smith

Do Yourself No Harm - Acts 16:28

October 2017

The jailer at Philippi was brought two Jews who were accused of sedition and teaching false religion. They were considered so dangerous that they were beaten with rods, put in stocks, and placed in the maximum security part of the prison.

The jailer’s responsibility was to make sure they did not escape, and if they did, he would be killed. He noticed they were different. Not only were they not cursing and complaining about what had happened to them, but they were actually praying and singing praises to God in the middle of the night. In fact, they were so loud and excited that the other prisoners heard them. They even kept the jailer awake for a long time.

Finally, just as he (the jailer) was able to fall asleep, there was a great earthquake. He ran to see what had happened and was terrified when he saw the earthquake had opened all the jail cell doors. Even though he thought it was strange that the cell doors had not been jammed shut by the collapsing earth, he assumed all of the prisoners had escaped and that his life was in jeopardy. So, instead of facing certain death for failure in his duty, he decided to kill himself. To him, this seemed to make sense. He and his family would avoid shame and humiliation, and it might even look as though he were killed by the escaping prisoners. However, when Paul realized what the jailer was going to do, he told him, “Do yourself no harm: for we are all here” (Acts 16:28).

Surprised, the jailer found a light and saw that none of the prisoners had escaped. He was shocked and amazed. Obviously, God had been dealing with him and his family. He had been so impressed by the reaction of these two Jews to their circumstances, by the miraculous results of the earthquake, and by all the prisoners still in place, that he responded to the real need in his life by asking, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Knowing his hungry heart, God had worked behind the scenes to reach out to him through all these circumstances.

God worked in similar ways in each example of suicide in the Bible. Some, such as Saul, Ahithophel, and Judas, knew God but turned away from Him. Others, such as Zimri and Abimelech, never knew God. They desired their own will more than they wanted God. They wanted money and possessions, position, popularity, and power, or they had unforgiveness and wanted revenge. In any event, they all ended up in circumstances where they thought suicide was the best answer. Some thought it was a way of escape from the shame and humiliation of failure or the consequences of choices they had made. Others thought their circumstances were hopeless, with no way for them to ever improve. Some others believed that they had done things that were so bad that God would never forgive them.

In America each year, about 800,000 people attempt suicide, and about 40,000 are successful. If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide, God is telling you the same thing that He told the Philippian jailer: “Do yourself no harm.” Things are never as bad as they seem. There is always hope in Jesus Christ. God always has help and alternatives as people trust Him and seek His salvation and will for their lives. God loves you and has a plan and purpose for your life (Jer. 29:11).
Your answer is the same as it was for the Philippian jailer—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). As you turn to Him for forgiveness of sins, ask Him to come into your life as Saviour. Then, surrender your life to Him as Lord and depend on His power to live for Him. He will save you and perform miracles to help you, regardless of your circumstances.

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