Acts 27: 1-3
When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us.
The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.
Proverbs 11: 13
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
Luke 16: 10-12
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
“The campaign for character is my personal campaign. The campaign for character cannot be delegated, managed or manufactured. It is a campaign for depth, for honour at the core, for hope. The campaign for character is the hidden campaign. Its primary pursuit is the story of God formed in my innermost being, godliness stamped on the eyeballs of my heart, a longing for purity that I might see God.” (Alan Scott)
Paul is a prisoner on a ship heading to Rome where he will plead his case before Caesar. Under the best conditions such a journey would have taken around five weeks. After just one day they dock at Sidon. It would be very easy for us to skip over verse 3 without realising the significance of Julius’ actions:
“….Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.”
Julius, remember, is the Roman centurion, the soldier who is in charge of Paul and the other prisoners on board. He has one primary duty – to ensure that every prisoner is transported to Rome and that they don’t escape along the way. In fact, if a Roman soldier lost a prisoner, he could be put to death himself. That’s how serious his job was. However, look at what he does. He permits Paul to go off and visit his friends.
Bear in mind he has probably only known Paul for a total of 24 hours. Yet, even in that short time, he has determined that Paul is a man who can be trusted, he is a man of character and integrity, he can be depended upon, he is a man of his word.
In a shallow, superficial world, men and women of depth, character and integrity will stand out and shine brightly. They will get noticed. We all need people in our lives who we can trust. Who will keep their promises and protect our interests. Who will be there when we need them and stand by us when others turn their backs. And we can also be those people for others.
Proverbs 12: 22 says:
“The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
If you are a leader of any kind, people must trust you or they won’t follow you. It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect – but if you continually show you can’t be trusted, that you lack character, you will very quickly lose the authority to lead them.
In our media saturated culture, misdeeds, mistakes and moral failures become public knowledge within minutes. Once trust is lost, it is very difficult to get back. Think about golfer Tiger Woods, for many years highly esteemed, if not almost idolised. Then in 2009, overnight his reputation was tarnished and trust was lost, along with millions of dollars of endorsements and sponsorships.
Competence without character will only take you so far. Jesus’ followers are called to dig deep foundations of trust and integrity so that, whatever storm hits, we will stand firm and remain true to our core convictions. That’s what we will see with Paul in the coming days. It’s what makes him unsinkable.
Author Stephen Covey says this in his book ‘The Speed of Trust’:
“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organisation, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world - one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love. On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time. That one thing is trust.”