June 30th is our wedding anniversary—28 years this year. Wow. I’ve been Mesu Andrews longer than I was Mesu Cooley. Very cool. Some women like diamonds, necklaces, rings, bracelets. I like jewelry, but I like trips better. Why? Because you have to remember to wear the jewelry. Here’s the issue. The diamond in my engagement ring sticks up, so I remove my rings before I go to bed—and then I forget to put them on the next morning. “So what’s the big deal?” you ask. My hubby feels like he’s dating an unmarried woman when we go out somewhere and folks see his wedding-banded finger and my wedding finger bare.
So a few years back, Roy and I attended a pastors and wives conference in Florida. We drove there from Indiana, and about half-way through Georgia I realized I’d forgotten my wedding rings. Ugh. I got “the look” from my husband. At the next major city, he found a Wal-Mart and pulled into the parking lot. I assumed he’d forgotten his toothbrush, underwear, or some other vital personal item. Nope. He walked directly to the jewelry counter and directed me to the inexpensive wedding bands. “Pick one,” he said, his smile genuine but leaving no room for debate. I chose a cheap, gold band with little hearts. The lady behind the counter asked me to try it on, and when I gave my approval, Roy opened his hand, waiting for me to give him the ring. I’d had about enough of the bossy husband routine but I gave him “the look” and then dropped the ring into his waiting palm.
Before I realized what he had in mind, he dropped to one knee, grabbed my left hand, and beamed at the jewelry counter lady. I was instantly crimson and realized he was about to propose—AGAIN! “Get up!” I sort of whispered and shouted at the same time. The jewelry counter lady giggled and started inviting people over to witness my husband’s romantic Wal-Mart moment. Roy kissed my hand. The crowd cheered. I was mortified—until I realized—I would never see these people again in my life. Who cared if they thought this was silly? My crazy husband is about the most adorable guy in the world! So why not relax and enjoy the moment. Seriously—what did I have to lose? And I gained a “wedding ring” to keep in my coin purse for emergencies!
Acts 25:23-25 – “The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high ranking officers and the leading men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. Festus said: ‘King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome.’” (emphasis added)
King Agrippa (Jewish king) and Festus (Roman governor) must each maintain the appearance of superiority over the other without causing a power struggle that leads to violence. The opinions of those high ranking officers (Roman) and leading men of the city (some Roman, some probably Hellenistic Jews) were of vital importance in keeping that delicate balance of authority and peace. Agrippa and Festus undoubtedly spent as much time considering HOW they would act and speak as they spent deciding WHAT to do and say. There is much to lose when life is measured by the opinions of others and the changing winds of a fickle culture.
Acts 25:26-27 – [Festus continued,] “‘But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. For I think it is unreasonable to send on a prisoner without specifying the charges against him.’” (emphasis added)
With that explanation of his predicament, Festus—knowingly or unwittingly—gave Paul every reason to remain silent. If the governor had no charges to levy against his prisoner, why should Paul speak and risk incrimination? Anyone whose primary goal was freedom would have kept silent. From an earthly point of view, Paul had nothing to gain by speaking in front of these influential people…but Paul seldom saw his circumstances through earthly eyes. Paul had nothing to lose—but through his spiritual vision, he saw many souls to gain. Because he was speaking to influential people, he could potentially reach everyone within his listeners’ sphere of influence as well.
- Lord, teach me to look beyond myself when I’m faced with a difficult decision. Help me measure the circumstance with spiritual eyes, a heavenly point of view. I want to live beyond the whims of people-pleasing and a changing culture, into the sure foundation of Your love and unending grace.
Question(s) for Comment:
Please feel free to leave a comment on either or both of the questions below, or share your own comments or questions if you like!
- Are “the stakes” higher for an influential person?
- What are the stakes common to everyone–leader or follower?