And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. Acts 24:27b
The heartbeat of obedience over worldly tactics and success metrics continues. It was so important for God to preserve these stories for us, and it is so essential for us to pause and let them soak in. We tend to look at leaders of the faith as major success stories who just had things go right; go their way. That they had a clear mission and plan and executed it flawlessly. That they were extraordinarily gifted in all manner of leadership and communication. That they were given red carpet welcomes and sparkly open doors. But that is simply not the case. The heroes of the faith were obedient. Period. They trusted God; they had faith; they did what He said. They were often in unfavorable circumstances. They usually waited a loooooooong time for things to develop…often not even seeing the end result. Whatever we see on the surface is a breaking through of the steady root-building underground. If we want to be a disciple, THIS is what it really looks like.
For over two years Paul sits in prison because the one who knew he was innocent and had the power to set him free was a power-hungry, money-hungry coward. He afforded Paul liberties and summoned him often to hear what he had to say, but for two years he deflected and delayed any action. Not only did he delay and reject the opportunity to free the one he knew had truth on his side, but he also delayed and rejected accepting the ultimate truth for himself.
How many people like Felix do we know? He knew the truth. In fact, we are told he, “had an accurate knowledge of the Way.” But it didn’t change him. He was even afraid. But fear doesn’t change us either. We can be scared of condemnation with no conviction toward repentance. Felix sends for Paul often and converses with him. Frequent exposure doesn’t change his heart. Instead, Felix tells Paul to go away. We are good at brushing off confronting truth. Felix secretly hopes for bribes to release Paul. Love of stuff, fear of man, and preservation of status and power keep Felix blind to the Gospel. And as Felix is outed from power and his esteemed position, he leaves unchanged and he leaves Paul in prison…his one last attempt to appease the Jews and gain some favor.
Questions: Who in your life is like Felix? They know about Jesus, but they don’t submit to Jesus? Pray that God will soften their heart TODAY.