22 “Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘I would like to hear this man myself.’ He replied, ‘Tomorrow you will hear him.’”
Acts 25:22 (NIV)
Have you ever rushed to judgment on a matter? Felt tempted to make an impulsive move? Have you heard things in a locker room, on TV, or on the internet that was crafted to tilt your opinion quickly?
Has what you wanted ever gotten in the way of judging someone or something fairly?
By the time we get to Acts 25, the apostle Paul had become a pawn in the court of public opinion. What to do with him grabbed centerstage nationally. Some loved him for bringing a radical message of truth, love, forgiveness, righteousness from God and real hope through Christ.
Others hated him, mostly those with power, because his messages threatened their existing power structures and established agendas. They wanted Paul eliminated, not only quickly tried, but dead.
Jewish King Agrippa and Roman Governor Felix were trying to sort all this out and needed to face this challenge. That’s the backdrop to today’s Scripture.
So here are some pointers for all of us who want to be sound in our decision-making. These pointers will help us rise to the challenges we face too.
AVOID EASY: Quick, impulsive decisions usually fail. Shortcuts get us in trouble when it comes to things other than travel. Easy ain’t always right; easy is just easy. Pause, pray and then move.
JUDGE FOR YOURSELF: Don’t live off of other’s opinions. Do your own homework. Then stand your ground.
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY: The burden of proof must fall on the accuser. “A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses“ (Deuteronomy 19:15).
RULE OF LAW OVER PERSONAL PREFERENCE: What I want must bow the knee to the rule of law. I cannot allow myself to circumvent, shortcut or manipulate the law to get what I want. We follow it; it doesn’t follow us.
We cannot do only what’s right in our own eyes; social disaster will follow such living. Paul continually appealed to the rule of law. So should we.
CONFER WITH OTHERS: Trust others to weigh in. Felix honored Agrippa. Agrippa cared to help Felix. Don’t live by one source.
WALK A MILE: “Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins” is an old Native American proverb that oft bears repeating! Follow that wisdom. Walk a mile in another person’s shoes first.
SEEK GOD’S MIND ON MATTERS: He knows best. He sees best. Real men and women are fearless in seeking the counsel of God.
Reflect: Where might I be rushing to judgment? Where might I be bending the rules to suit myself? Whose shoes do I need to be walking in a bit more?
Am I unbalanced in my news gathering? Am I seeking God’s mind on all matters?
A prayer to consider: LORD, don’t let me take easy ways out or live by convenience. Help me to discern what is best. I want to be immune from coercion, exercise strong moral courage and uphold the proper rule of law in life. Entrench me in these ways of living by your Spirit. Amen.