(Acts 24:16 ESV) So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.
A few years ago, I suffered a great deal of emotional distress at the hands of someone who misjudged me. While I maintained my innocence, others sided with this individual because of his influence. While the actions against me were hurtful, and to some degree harmful, they were unjustified in every way. Ultimately, my reputation and character were proven to be above reproach, and the individual who misjudged me lost some degree of credibility among those who had believed his negativity.
I remember feeling a great sense of frustration at being falsely accused and hurt that some who had been my friends so quickly believed the “fake news.” I learned that there are times that trying to defend yourself can be a waste of time. Sometimes one must simply wait out the storm…
In our passage of Scripture today, Paul was faced with a similar situation. He had been falsely accused and brought before the authorities. No doubt, he was more than frustrated. His accusers wanted more than his reputation; they wanted his life! When reading the context, we discover that his primary accusers didn’t even show up to the trial. Instead, they sent others to represent their grievances on their behalf.
Thankfully, Paul had an opportunity to defend himself to an impartial judge who was not only interested in getting to the truth, but also wanted to know why Paul could be so calm in the midst of such hateful accusations. Paul states, “I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.”
When I read that statement, my first thought was how hard Paul tried to be at peace with God and the men who were attempting to destroy him. Romans 12:18 says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” It’s pretty easy to be at peace with people who love me, and affirm me… But, to be at peace with an aggressor; someone who is actively trying to harm me? That can only be accomplished with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Instead of returning hate for hate, Paul simply used this situation as an opportunity to speak into the life of Felix and his wife, Drusilla. For two years, he had the ear of one of the most powerful men in the region. At a time when Paul could have remained frustrated, he instead faithfully proclaimed the gospel.
I’m thankful that God is ultimately responsible for justice. Some situations just can’t be remedied through human effort. It is in these times of frustration that we must remain faithful. If Paul could do it so can you!
PRAYER: Father, thank you for providing the strength to remain faithful in frustrating situations. Your justice will prevail. Teach me to trust You at all times. Amen.