Grasping the Big Picture
Gracious Lord, forgive me for the pride that too frequently takes the place of praise in my heart.
Read ACTS 25:1-12
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Paul showed great courage because he was in God’s hands. There was nothing for him to fear and everything for him to anticipate.
The ferocity of Jewish opposition to Paul is difficult to understand unless one remembers that many of these leaders were his previous Sanhedrin colleagues. Had his outstanding education at the feet of Gamaliel eclipsed theirs? Had his dramatic conversion threatened some of the ringleaders in the crucifixion of Jesus? Did his testimony to Jesus’ question on the road to Damascus cause them to question their stance? These Jewish leaders in Israel and across the empire refused to believe that the crucified Jesus was the resurrected Christ. Their power, status and significance were at stake. Paul’s message undermined everything that was precious to them. They concluded that there was no alternative: Paul must die. Having once been thwarted in their plot to destroy him (Acts 23:21), they were determined that he would not escape again. Thus when Festus was appointed, they sought to persuade him of Paul’s guilt. They wanted death, not justice.
As Christians we are not immune from similar feelings of threat to our belief systems when we discover new truths from God’s Word, which challenge us to rethink long-held practices. Other, more successful, believers or churches may arouse feelings of competitiveness. We may feel redundant, unappreciated or resentful and try to protect ourselves or family members from hurt.
In contrast to the threatened Jewish leaders, Paul stands out as an example of uncompromising faithfulness to Christ. The significant cost to Paul was far outweighed by the glory to God. Paul grasped the big picture of God’s working in the world. Whatever happened to him–imprisonment, injustice or death itself–in God’s hands would advance the Gospel (Phil. 1:12,21) among his own people, the Gentiles and their rulers (Acts 9:15). God’s kingdom came first.
Feelings of jealousy, vulnerability or threats to our position are common to all humans. How do you handle these? What does it mean to you to put God’s Kingdom first?
Lord, I pray that I may be consumed with Your glory. May all things submit to the advancement of Your Kingdom.