I wonder what you would do? I guess, I wonder what I would do? I’d like to tell you I’d be cool-headed and have my wits about me. I’d like to tell you that I’d be “quick to listen… slow to speak… and slow to get angry,” (James 1:19), but something tells me that’s probably not the way it would go down. What am I talking about? Defending myself!
That’s what I thought of today as I read Acts 24. There’s a bunch of religious people who have a grievance against this guy named Paul. So they bring him to court to try to get him declared guilty. Here’s what the lawyer says…
“This man has been found to be a real pest and troublemaker for our people all over the world.” Acts 24:5 CEV
A “real pest..?” A “troublemaker..?” That’s the best you’ve got? And that’s a reason to bring someone into court? And by the way, don’t you think you’re exaggerating just a tad bit by saying, “all over the world?” I mean, really. Paul hadn’t been all over the whole world, how could he be a pest and troublemaker in places he had never been?
But here’s the cool thing I noticed about Paul. In the middle of all of it. Paul never lost his joy or his mission. When asked to defend himself, Paul said…
“I know that you have judged the people of our nation for many years, and I am glad to defend myself in your court.” Acts 24:10 CEV
When I read that, I asked myself how I would have reacted in that situation. You see, Paul didn’t forget his message, even in the face of injustice. Instead of turning his attention on himself and the way he was being mistreated, Paul spoke his message clearly, “I am just as sure as these people are that God will raise from death everyone who is good or evil. And because I am sure, I try my best to have a clear conscience in whatever I do for God or for people.” Acts 24:15-16 CEV
Paul never lost sight of his purpose. In the middle of persecution, slander, injustice and imprisonment, the purposes of God were carried out in Paul’s life and ministry. It wasn’t easy, but Paul stayed focused on what God had called him to do. Oh, and by the way, just so you know… Paul was imprisoned for two more years.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Ask yourself… if you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Also ask yourself… if you were put on trial for being a Christian, would you focus on the injustice done to you and defend yourself, or would you keep your message about Jesus and all that He’s done for you and still doing?
Help me to keep my story, Your story. You be my Defender. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen