As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
- Mark 10:17-18
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
- James 5:19-20
Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, where the chief priests and the Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. Festus answered, “Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. Let some of your leaders come with me, and if the man has done anything wrong, they can press charges against him there.”
After spending eight or ten days with them, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. When Paul came in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him. They brought many serious charges against him, but they could not prove them.
Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.”
Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?”
Paul answered: “I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”
After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”
- Acts 25:1-12
We have just survived another Christmas, or maybe not for everyone, the surviving, the Christmas or both.
And how does that Christmas song go? Santa Claus knows who’s naughty or nice.
But when we see our grandchildren, I ask our youngest, “Have you been a good boy?” You know what his reply will be. According to him, he’s been a very good boy indeed! Really? Jesus says that there is none who is good except God. Our youngest grandson has just added telling a falsehood to the mountain of wrong doing that he has done, and don’t even bring up the mischief that he thought about and did not have time to get around to. (Okay, as kids go, he is not totally rotten, at least not until my wife has spoiled him, again and again.)
In thinking of these two things. When we go out into this fallen world, what should we be? Nice or Good? We can eliminate naughty, at least I hope so.
My wife read a social media post from one of the other Sunday school teachers at our church. He made a challenge to the readers. Christians have been so “nice” for such a long time, they are push-overs for all those who are inclined to push. We should be “good,” according to our friend, not “nice.”
His distinction is rather profound. The secular world wants choice instead of life for the unborn, but the unborn do not get to choose. And the Christians say that you can do that, but I will be nice and not participate. Political Correctness started with not calling ethnic groups by the insulting slang that those ethnic groups call each other. The Christians said that they wanted to be nice. Each new fabricated offense, and the Christians remained nice. And now, they say we cannot talk about Jesus at all because talking about Jesus is “hate speech.” Are we going to continue to be nice?
I was working on my Sunday school lesson in finishing the book of James. The final verse speaks of turning someone away from sin.
Let’s use the hot button of the day. Someone is living a same-sex lifestyle, against God’s law. If you even say that this is a sin, which it clearly is in Scripture, then the secular world will call anything you say, even if you do not bring this issue up, as hate speech. Case in point is that Franklin Graham had to go to court to win his case so that his evangelism crusade could make a few stops in Great Britain. The government officials blocked his entry because of Franklin Graham’s stance on the LGBTQ+ issue. They went on to say that if Franklin Graham opened his mouth to say anything, it would be considered hate speech due to his stance on one or two issues.
Franklin Graham won his day in court, but what of the next time? And what if Franklin Graham had simply said, “We could go on to the next town. You cannot stop the work of the Holy Spirit.” But he did not do so. He fought back. He was not nice. He might not be perfectly good, but he stood up for the Good, for the Good News that God loves us and does not want anyone to go to hell.
My comment on those last verses of James was that people try to prevent Christians from proselytizing. They say that when we say that someone is a sinner, that hurts their self-image. Therefore, it is hate speech. But read those verses again. If we really believe that our neighbor is going to hell, NOT telling him that he is on a path of destruction is hate speech. It may be hard to do, and you may have to work at it to get the words right, but telling the neighbor about Jesus might be the most loving thing you ever do. (And I know that in some nations on earth, that brings the death penalty. I am talking to those who are supposedly in a free country, but Christians have been nice once or twice too often.) By not telling them about Jesus, we are essentially saying, “I do not care if you go to hell or not. If you need a push, I can provide it!”
Why did I add the confrontation between Festus and the Apostle Paul?
He did not back down. He could care less if his words offended Festus. Paul knew he had done nothing wrong, and he would rather appeal to a pagan emperor than to stand before a kangaroo court led by many of the same people who had sentenced Jesus to a death on the cross. Jesus was silent, as prophesied in Isaiah 53:7. Jesus did so to carry out the will of God the Father and die for our sins, but Paul stood firm.
When it comes to sin and biblical truths, we may not be perfect ourselves, but we must stand firm, stand up for the Good, even if it may mean that others may not consider us “nice.”
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.