Acts 19:14 “Seven sons of one [named] Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.”

At first glance, it all appears honourable and good. The seven sons of a Jewish chief priest named Sceva were in the ministry of releasing people from satanic bondage.

There are many things that at first glance appear good.

If only we would pause long enough to ask questions, to wonder, to see past what we are looking at. Like what we can do right now in this verse.

Seven sons, the perfect number and maybe they utilised this in their presentation of their ministry. “It doesn’t get better than this!” is maybe the sign that it can. But on face value it is impressive.

Their father, the Jewish chief priest, brings credibility. He knows the law of God, he has risen through the ranks, he is respected. There is nothing quite like knowledge and experience coupled with age to bring the esteem and honour into a situation.

It looks perfect and it looks credible. But there is one other detail which is not a weakness, it is not a sin (though I did find a website as I researched this word which ridiculously said it was, there is some rubbish on the internet!), but it is something hidden that a person needs to be aware of. The name of the father was Sceva. The meaning is ‘left-handed’.

The Old Testament has 3 mentions of left handed people, they all appear in military stories and all come from the tribe of Benjamin. They all caught their enemies by surprise because though expecting an attack from the right hand, the deadly hit came from the left and in one story the warriors were ambidextrous.

Now if you think this means we have to be aware of left-handed people then you really need to go and write articles for the website I found! That is not what I am saying.

But I believe we do need to slow the chapter of our lives down enough to examine everything and even the people that come our way. A left-handed warrior is deadly when you are expecting a right-handed one. Sometimes we can believe the good in a person and overlook an important area. Not everything is what it appears. We can choose to walk with people that we do not truly know. We can praise and yet be walking into a trap. For example, one of the most generous women that ever came into a church that I pastored, came only for a short season, but made a huge impression. The lady went around giving out money like she was printing it! Consequently she ended up being very popular! Later we discovered that she was illegally staying in the country and that she was a fraud and very much in debt. Why was she generous? She wasn’t, it just looked like generosity. It was manipulation, gaining friends, wanting the attention. She had a fundamental flaw that was being met under the guise of her generosity.

Not everything is what it seems. That’s my point. Not everyone is what they seem. Words tumble out, knowledge, experience, and a following, it all looks too good to be true perhaps. Sadly sometimes, it is. There is usually a sign that you overlooked. A name like Sceva that you wondered, ‘what does that mean?’ but you were so caught up in the heat of the moment that you let the signs go, you gave the benefit of the doubt.

Slow it down, don’t become sceptical, but do pray for wisdom. Many have fallen at the hands of a Sceva.

Again I love left-handed people. I have a friend who is left-handed. But I know in my life I need wisdom more than ever to look for what I do not see at first glance.

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