Summary: Paul teaches us how to demonstrate tact, diplomacy and truthful speech in the face of stiff criticism

How Paul Demonstrated Wisdom Before His Accusers

(Acts 23:1-5)

Illustration:Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

1. Have you ever wondered how to demonstrate wisdom while facing stiff accusations?

Paul began his defense before his accusers by saying, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (Acts 23:1)

When we are able to live and relate to others with a clear conscience it gives us greater credibility.

Paul credited His Sovereign Lord with the ability to guide him with the knowledge, wisdom and promptings from the Spirit through his conscience. The great apostle relied on his conscience to guide him with the moral judgment necessary to oppose the violation of Spirit’s ethical principles.

Paul was able to cope with his imperfections, oversights and lack of complete knowledge because he constantly relied on the Spirit to refresh and cleanse his conscience from all unrighteousness.

A life that is obedient to God is characterized by steadiness, composure, consistency, and strength. Avoid having to live with guilt, regret or intuitive vulnerability.

Ask the Lord to help you follow Paul’s example of living with a good conscience before God and men.

2. Paul loses his composure when he is struck in the mouth, but quickly admits his mistake.

Trust the Lord to help you maintain self-control in all situations. He says, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” (Acts 23:5)

Paul admits that his insult was done to righteousness not to himself. Be willing to acknowledge your shortcomings. Distinguish between errors of actions, attitude or perception.

Learn to not take abuse personally. Realize that some mistakes are done accidentally rather with malicious intent.

He wisely leaves judgment in the hands of God. Paul lived what he wrote, “Give place for the wrath of God. Vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay.” (Rom. 12:19)

When Paul was found to have violated a law, he quickly admits his fault.

Ask the Lord to help you be willing to admit your mistakes so you do not create unnecessary stumbling blocks for the love and truth of Jesus.

3. Paul shows wisdom in switching the focus from himself to a debate between the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

When you are in a prickly situation it is wise to shift the focus away from yourself and on to a debatable issue. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection from the dead like the Pharisees.

Paul used this controversy to defer attention away from himself and on to the squabbling priests.

Ask the Lord to give you just the right wisdom when you need it.

4. Paul taught that Christianity was no challenge to a God directed Jewish orthodoxy. The great apostle knew that Christianity was no heresy to the substance of sound Jewish teaching. In his presentation, Paul shows how Jewish teaching had become corrupted by battles for power, position and pride.

Wise people are able to graciously reveal the hypocrisy of unbelief, mis-beliefs and incomplete faith.

The accusations of Paul pointed out that the Pharisees were not seeking for truth just a way to rid themselves of someone who knew the true Christ.

When you are up against entrenched bigots learn how to choose your battles wisely. There are some battles that are not worth fighting.

Wisdom finds common ground between people.

Ask the Lord to help you work on points where you find agreement between one another in your family, your working relationships and to those you are ministering to.

5. Paul knew that Christ’s wisdom would occasionally lead him to controversial situations.

Do not be surprised or overwhelmed when you are called to defend the truth and your own credibility. Trust the Lord for the words, peace and guidance to lead through the dark valleys of life.

Conclusion:A study was recently completed on corporate managers. In it they were asked if they voiced positions that 1. focused on the good of the company, rather than personal benefit and 2. jeopardized their own careers. Emerging from this study were the four leader-types which are found in all organizations.

Type #1 -- courageous. These people expressed ideas to help the company improve, in spite of personal risk or opposition.

Type #2 -- confronting. These people spoke up, but only because of a personal vendetta against the company.

Type #3 -- calloused. These people didn’t know, or care, whether they could do anything for the company; they felt helpless and hopeless, so they kept quiet.

Type #4 -- conforming. These people also remained quiet, but only because they loathed confrontation and loved approval.

The researchers discovered that the courageous managers accomplished the most, reported the highest job satisfaction, and eventually were commended by superiors. Their commitment had certainly improved the quality of their lives.

Jon Johnston, Courage - You Can Stand Strong in the Face of Fear, 1990, SP Publications, pp. 138-139.