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A Festus to Test Us

With integrity, respect, truth, acceptance, and doing what’s right for the gospel, we can witness God’s way to our leaders and our society.

Introduction

Let me ask you a question: As Christians, how do we witness well to those in authority? Like those who govern over us: How do we treat our leaders, especially if we don’t like them all that much? If we are citizens of heaven, then what does that mean about our citizenship here? Do we owe a duty to our nation or is that secondary?

Today, we come to a passage that speaks to all of these questions if we are willing to listen to it.

The person in authority over Paul is the new Roman governor named Festus. Not much is known about Porcius Festus, who succeeded Felix as governor but died in office only two years later. He seems to have been more just and moderate than either his predecessor or successors. Governor Festus wastes no time in acquainting himself with Jewish affairs, including the case against Paul. Josephus described Festus as a brisk and energetic worker, and Luke’s account supports this.

[Read Acts 25:1–12]

Now I recognize that none of us are first-century Jews under Roman law. And the authorities God may give us opportunity to witness to may not be governmental. They may be in the workplace or in the academy or even in our family. Nonetheless, I believe we can drive some important principles from how Paul acts in Acts.

Keep your integrity even when integrity is not rewarded

Remember that Felix kept waiting and hoping for a bribe from Paul for two solid years. Time after time, he would meet with Paul, and Paul would tell him about Jesus, while Felix was hoping for a bribe. He never got one; Paul never succumbed. He wouldn’t stoop to save his own neck.

In his book Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller tells an account of Howard:

At 27 years old, Howard was given an opportunity to move from one ...

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David Ward is Pastor of Teaching Ministries for New Hope Church in Greenwood, IN.

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