“I wish Americans thought more like Europeans when it comes to money and work. We think work is the most valued commodity. Really the most valued commodity is time.” – Bryan Cranston – American Actor
A COMMODITY is a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold, such as copper or coffee. It is also a useful or valuable thing, such as water or time. Another definition for commodity is something that brings a convenience or advantage. Sometimes people— for example, movie stars or athletes, can become brands or commodities. They are subject to ready exchange or exploitation within a market. The current news stories of songstress Brittany Spears and NFL player Michael Oher, who were allegedly exploited for their gifts by their guardians, prove that individuals can be both persons AND commodities in the wrong hands. Some of us remember the old trope of a cartoon character having greedy dollar signs in their eyes. Have you ever had a commoditized relationship?
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were going to the place of prayer when they encountered a slave girl with a spirit of divination. This young woman was making her masters a lot of money through fortune telling.
17She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” 18This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her. 19Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20“The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. 21“They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”
These men were not concerned with her as a person…they were interested her gifts bringing them profit. Though her statements about Paul and Silas were factual, they derived from an unclean spiritual place. Paul and Silas were not just delivering her spiritually, but also naturally from being a misused and abused commodity. In the process, they had also taken these men’s meal ticket away.
22A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
Then we find the familiar passage about Paul and Silas praying and singing praises to God at midnight. The LORD intervened with an earthquake to release them and other prisoners in the jail. The jailer holding them is saved by belief in the name of the LORD Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. His entire household is also saved. All this transpired because Paul and Silas chose to view a young woman as a valuable person and not a commodity.