Paul’s Defense Before Felix
Open Your Bible
Acts 24:1-27, Jeremiah 29:10-14, Hebrews 13:15
One of my personal frustrations as a disciple of Jesus is being misunderstood by others. Sometimes it comes in the form of practicing a Sabbath, when neighbors find our faithful church attendance as a restrictive rule of faith rather than a rhythm of fruitful labor. Other times it looks like a judgment on our hope in Jesus. Instead of it being understood as unwavering faith, it is deemed as dopey positivity that is unrealistic and immature (Hebrews 10:23).
The life Jesus calls us to is often hard to understand because it is countercultural and uncomfortable for most, even believers! Paul was misunderstood numerous times in the story of Acts. In this chapter, Paul stands before the governor Felix to defend his faith. Instead of lashing out against the false charges, he says, “I always strive to have a clear conscience towards God and men” (Acts 24:16). He chooses the high road, staying above reproach when it comes to defending the gospel to those who may never fully understand it.
When it comes to defending our faith, there are many who take the wrong approach. They hold signs and yell; they cause unnecessary division. Some isolate themselves in ivory towers filled with theology books to prove they’re right and others are wrong. But Jesus shows us a different response.
When Jesus stood before Pilate, he also chose to not overreact or over explain. When questioned about his actions, Jesus responded, “I was born for this, and I have come into this world for this: to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). His entire life was living above reproach.
Whether our faith is ever fully understood, may our actions never be disputed. For we know our reward for living faithfully is not found in the acknowledgement and acceptance of people, but rather in God’s promises to restore us in the final days. “There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing” (2Timothy 4:8).
Just like the Israelites in Jeremiah 29, who had been rejected from their land, we may feel rejected by others for our faith. But we can have hope in this promise from God: “‘I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you to this place. For I know the plans I have for you’—this is the LORD’s declaration—‘plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:10–11).
May we strive to “walk worthy of the calling” (Ephesians 4:1) we have received and approach everyone with humility, gentleness and patience. Instead of taking a defensive stance, let’s bear with one another in love and walk with a clear conscience before God and one another.