There is so much in these verses, but what caught my attention today was how Paul responded when he was challenged by Festus. As Paul recounted his amazing conversion experience, Festus listened. He didn’t interrupt at all until Paul began speaking of Jesus’ resurrection. At that point, I guess he had heard enough. He couldn’t take it anymore and had to speak up. Festus called Paul crazy! I mean, in his mind, he had to be. Resurrection is not possible. How could someone like Paul, someone so educated, someone so passionate and reasonable believe something like this?
Well…..this is exactly what Paul was trying to explain, but Festus simply couldn’t make sense of it. It didn’t fit with his worldview. This kind of information was new and seemingly unreasonable. So he called him crazy – loudly – called him out in front of everyone – YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND!!
Paul didn’t respond in like manner. He simply said, “I am not out of my mind.” He didn’t launch some sort of counter attack on Festus. He didn’t give it much attention at all, just a simple answer and then continued with his thoughts….well, preaching.
I need to work on this kind of attitude. When I get criticism, I tend to give it more attention than I should. I feel like I’ve got to defend myself. And sometimes my defense can turn into some sort of misguided sinful counter attack. Criticism can also make me begin questioning myself and wondering if there’s truth in it that I didn’t recognize. Sometimes, I’ve even let these kinds of things cripple me in such a way that the work doesn’t even get completed. I’m not saying we shouldn’t question ourselves, but I am saying we should be mindful of Paul’s example here. It’s not uncommon to receive attacks in the midst of doing God’s work. Let’s respectfully give an answer, but don’t let it distract us from what God has called us to do.
Prayer: LORD, Make me more like You. Give me discernment when dealing with criticism. Help me to recognize Your voice in the midst of all the other voices which battle for my attention. Guide my efforts and give me perseverance in spite of my insecurities to continue those things which You have called me to do. Give me confidence and help me to honor You with my words when critics speak. AMEN.
– Steve Corn