When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer standing there, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been tried?” —Acts 22:25

Here in the U.S. people are given many rights through the Founding Documents. In the Declaration of Independence we read that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” The First Amendment of the Constitution reads that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Much is said about people’s rights in these statements.

As a Roman citizen, the Apostle Paul had rights as well. The context of the verse above occurred when there was a great disturbance in the temple because of Paul being there. The people wanted to kill him but he was rescued by soldiers. Paul was going to be whipped by the soldiers to find out what he had done. But when they found out he was a Roman citizen, they withdrew immediately. It was against the law to do what they were doing to Paul as stated in Roman law— “None but the whole Roman people could pass sentence on the life of a Roman citizen. No magistrate could punish him by stripes or capitally. The single expression, “I am a Roman citizen,” checked their severest decrees.”

There are times when followers of Jesus Christ remind those in authority of the rights we have as citizens. The law is the law and even those in authority are to obey it. Let us be wise in how we claim our rights as a citizen.

Dear Father, help me to know when to use my rights as a citizen of this nation. Thank You that our real freedom comes through Jesus and that it is in heaven where we will experience that perfect freedom. Until then may I faithfully follow Him and be and do what He desires. May it be so.

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