When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
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Alfred Austin, an English poet, in his writings quoted an gravestone epitaph that said: "Here lies who, born a man, a grocer died." It was a statement about how our work takes over our identity. We become what we do. A man is known less as a man and more as a grocer. As important as our work is, we will fundamentally lose the essence of our humanity if we do not see ourselves as human beings, especially as human beings in need of salvation. In this scripture from Acts, we learn about a man without a name - who is only known to us as what he does. He is a jailer. When he fails as a jailer, his livelihood and his very identity is threatened as unfit to continue living. Paul and Silas by choosing to remain his prisoner, even without the prison doors, saves his life. His gratitude becomes the question that grants him an identity that lives beyond what he does for a living. The jailer takes on a new identity: believer in Jesus Christ. We are saved not by what we do but by faith in the one who grants us a living identity through him.
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Holy God, with grateful hearts we find ourselves in you. Amen.