Wherever wisdom is found
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men … in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
- from Acts 5:34-39
In today’s passage we see an internal dialogue within the Jewish ruling council. Gamaliel counsels a “wait and see” approach to the early Christian movement. And, although he’s not a follower of Jesus, God still uses him.
Over and over again throughout the scriptures God uses the wisdom of those who are outside of the community of God’s people to bless God’s people. Gamaliel’s advice is good advice. It’s reasonable and measured. And as a result of Gamaliel’s intervention, the Christians experience a brief period of respite from persecution.
God can make good use of wisdom wherever wisdom’s found. Your secular friend, neighbor, co-worker, or relative may have an insight that will bless, protect, encourage or strengthen you. This is one of many reasons we who follow Jesus live outward-facing lives, engaging even with people who don’t share our spiritual commitments.
Gamaliel has a flash of insight here. Looking at God’s mission, it could seem like an impossible mission. Be his witnesses to the ends of the earth? How is that supposed to happen? But Gamaliel’s insight tips the scales. If this mission really is from God, it goes from “mission impossible” to “mission inevitable.” The same data point that prompted caution in Gamaliel prompts courage in us. Because our mission is from God, no one can stop us.
How have you been blessed by those who stand outside of your circle of faith? What truths or insights has God revealed to you through them?