Very Much Annoyed
Acts 16:16 ¶ One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling.
Acts 16:17 While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.”
Acts 16:18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
This is an interesting incident where Paul was regularly being confronted by a slave girl who was being used by her owners. Different translations have given us a variety of perspectives on his feelings toward this situation. The King James Version says that he was “grieved.” This conveys a feeling of sympathy, empathy and pain regarding the condition of the girl. She was being exploited by those who owned her and the injustice of the situation grieved him.
The 1984 NIV says that Paul “became so troubled” that he decided to take action. The language here is a little nuanced from the KJV, and not only does he feel a sadness or grief, but he is troubled to the point of intervention.
The latest NIV and NRSV both use the phrase “very much annoyed” to explain how Paul felt at the moment. It seems that we have struggled with English language terminology which is strong enough to convey how Paul was feeling at the time. What Paul was witnessing was a huge injustice. A young girl was being used to make money for her owners and not only was she being exploited, the spirit within her, not from the Lord was taunting Paul and his witness. He didn’t need this kind of support for his ministry. Therefore his response serves two purposes, setting the girl free and disconnecting the power and work of God from that of the men who were engaged in evil.
Is there anything that very much annoys us today — to the point where we would want to take action? There probably should be!
The injustice of exploitation ought to make us mad! There is a time and place for being grieved, troubled and just plain old annoyed. These are not un-Christlike attributes. Jesus was annoyed at the injustice that he found in the temple. He was moved to do something about it and Paul takes action as well. We are not to tolerate this kind of activity and as followers of Christ we are to help set people free from the bondage.
The ‘muddling’ of the Gospel should also annoy us. When those on the outside seek to ‘help’ us with our message then people will receive mixed messages. Followers of Christ should be responsible for the message that we present. Make sure it is presented clearly and don’t allow by-standers to be the extra support that you need. Proclaim Christ and allow his hand to be at work in the world so that his power is revealed.
There are moments when we will be righteously - very much annoyed and driven to action. Follow the example of Paul and be bold in response.
Lord, please give me discernment for those moments when I am to act. Amen.