Commandments Not Suggestions

Yesterday’s reading included the description of a plan where more than forty people were conspiring to kill Paul. This information led to Paul being sent from Jerusalem to Caesarea where he would face Felix the Governor.

Today’s reading link: Acts 24

Much like Jesus standing on trial for his life, there were false charges brought against Paul, but Paul stood firm and used this as an opportunity to evangelize. A few of the things that stood out for me here:

  • Paul didn’t argue and directly confront the charges. He gave verbal substantive evidence as to what happened, where he was, and why he was there. When we’re facing false accusations, it doesn’t do us any good to bicker as this ends up being a distraction from the truth.
  • The murderous plot by the forty men. There was no mention of this during the trial even though Felix was made aware of it from a reputable source (Claudius Lysias, a military commander). The accusers weren’t seeking justice, they were seeking their own selfish will to be done.
  • Paul’s accusers were saying that Paul was stirring up riots (Acts 24:5), however wouldn’t the murder by forty plus people have incited some sort of a riot? These people planned this as a group actually shared their plans with the chief priests and elders! Imagine getting together with forty of your buddies, calling the elders of your church and sharing your plan to kill someone via an ambush… The very people who should have been the most upstanding and honoring of The Ten Commandments seemed to ignore the sixth commandment (Deuteronomy 5:17). I’m also reminded of the commandment to not bear false witness (Exodus 20:16).
  • Satan is often deemed as the father of lies and the accuser. I very much sense this theme here with Paul as we read what actually happened as compared to what he was being accused of. Satan’s strategy is to suppress the word, suppress evangelism, and to make us doubt our faith.
  • Paul’s statements remind us of 1 Peter 3:15: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”. What is the reason for the hope that is in you? Are we ready to make a defense and share our faith at all times? Practice plus repetition leads to mastery!

Once again, we see a pattern of sin here that should force us to reflect on our own behaviors. Have we had stirrings in our hearts to falsely accuse? Perhaps not a blatant, intentional false accusation, but I believe through jealously or other feelings we can be deceived into thinking that we’re better (or worse) than others, that someone else is in the wrong and we’re in the right.

Dear God, thank you for your living truth where we can learn more about your will and ways. Thank you for the eternal hope that we have through repentance of sin and faith in your son and our king Jesus Christ. Amen.