No Expiry Date

A cat's gotta do what a cat's gotta do!
We don’t view Paul as a patient man, but considering that by the time we get to Acts 26, he’s been in front of the Sanhedrin, two Roman governors, Felix and Festus, and one king, Agrippa, to defend himself, we have to give him a gold star. What is it that you people don’t understand here? How many times do I have to tell you before you get the message?

Do you have times when you just want to give up, to stop fighting what seems like a futile battle?

Then Paul mentions what is to me a clincher of a statement. Acts 26: “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.

The vision, of course, is the mandate given to Paul by God on the Damascus Road to go and preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (9:15, 16; 26:15-18).

Obedience to God’s call has left Paul lying for dead outside the city gates, being lowered in a basket to escape his persecutors, in jail and beaten, misunderstood by the Jewish believers and criticized by the Gentile Christians, and now arrested and on his way to certain death in Rome.

Don’t you just want to give up, Paul?

Sometimes, I wish he’d have said, “yes” to that question, but he didn’t. It would make life a whole lot easier if there was an expiry date on obedience.

But Paul had to persevere in his commitment to the call of God on his life no matter what it cost him.

And so do you and I, whatever it costs.

Jesus said: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). It’s a hard-to-take statement following other hard-to-take statements. Unhappily the commitment to the command of Christ over our lives is the partner statement that we often leave out of the Gospel message. We are not only saved FROM something—sin, we are saved TO something—obedience.

Paul understood the commitment to the command of Christ when he was delivered on the road to Damascus. Now, as he stands before Agrippa, he confirms that commitment knowing full well what it has cost him and what it might still cost him.

Paul followed the example of his leader, Jesus. And that needs to be our goal as well—even to the death.

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