Willing to Change
Listen to the sailing experts or to the celebrated Jewish prisoner, Paul? The answer must have seemed obvious to Julius, the Roman centurion charged with bringing Paul and his companions to Rome. Julius listened to the ship’s owner and its captain, who then set sail for a harbor in Crete (Acts 27:9–12).
But when a violent storm arose, just as Paul had warned, maybe Julius listened more carefully to his prisoner. Paul said, “Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you’” (27:23–24).
Something in Paul’s message or demeanor must have impressed Julius because he didn’t ignore Paul again.
When the ship’s crew discovered they were near land, they wanted to lower the lifeboats to save themselves (27:28–30). Paul advised Julius to stop the sailors from abandoning ship, and the centurion did. He then followed Paul’s counsel to feed everyone (vv. 33–37). He also released the prisoners (vv. 42–44) because he “wanted to spare Paul’s life” (v. 43). As a result, all 276 people on board survived (vv. 37, 44).
As commander of 100 Roman soldiers, Julius was used to unconditional obedience from his men and silent compliance from his prisoners. Yet God helped this battle-hardened commander to see that humbling himself to listen to a prisoner was the wisest course of action.
I sometimes become so set in my ways or so confident in my abilities that I don’t listen to others. Julius’s interaction with Paul reminds me that God places all kinds of people in my path and any of them can be his messenger. Am I humble enough to give every person equal respect and focused attention? Am I wise enough to heed the sound advice of someone who has less authority or fewer credentials than I do?
The Bible tells us to be “quick to listen” and “slow to speak” (James 1:19). How can you implement that principle in your interactions today?
Read Acts 28:1–10. What happened on the island of Malta as further evidence that God was with Paul and that Julius was wise to listen to him?
Jesus also interacted with a Roman centurion. Read Luke 7:1–10. In what ways are this centurion’s words and actions similar to Julius’s? What do both centurions teach us about humbling ourselves before God?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of our series on Not-As-Famous Men and Women of the Bible.
 The we in Acts 27 refers to Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, as well as others who voluntarily traveled with Paul to Rome.
 Julius is mentioned by name only in Acts 27:1, but many scholars, including Warren Wiersbe, believe that he traveled with Paul all the way to Rome. See The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2007), 405–407.