Wednesday, June 08, 2016

"The Betrayal of Justice"

Acts 24.27 “The Message”

“After two years of this, Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus. Still playing up to the Jews and ignoring justice, Felix left Paul in prison.”

Marcus Antonius Felix, the governor of Judea around 52-60 AD, was known as “a master of cruelty and lust”.[1] He had three wives and believed himself “capable of committing any crime and avoiding punishment because of his influence”.[2] Felix considered himself above the law and so defined the meaning of corruption. He maneuvered for political advantage at the expense of those less powerful than himself. Paul was at his mercy and left in prison for two years because the governor both hoped to gain money from Paul (v. 26) and further his influence with Paul’s enemies. Felix was not ignorant about Christianity. To the contrary, he was “well acquainted with the Way” (v. 22) and was therefore without excuse for his deplorable act of injustice toward Paul.

Have I been infected by the spirit of Felix?
  • ...maneuvered for personal gain without regard for my affect on others?
  • ...befriended powerful people at the expense of weaker, less influential individuals?
  • ...catered to the controlling interests of those I deem advantageous to my cause?
  • ...ignored justice due to one without the wherewithal to stand up for him/herself?
I hope not because the Bible has something to say about that kind of behavior:
 
“How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Psalms 82:2-4 NIV

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV

“Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not plead the case of the fatherless to win it, they do not defend the rights of the poor.”
Jeremiah 5:26-28b NIV

If I do not “speak up and judge fairly” or “defend the rights of the poor and needy”, I leave them in the prison of their circumstance when I could have set them free. Do I allow my own apathy or selfish ambition to betray the very persons God asked me to protect and befriend?

God, give me eyes to see the betrayal of justice when it snakes its insidious path to my heart. Help me crush its ugly head the moment it becomes recognizable. Empower me to resist the seduction of strategic alliances with people whose foremost interest is something different than the welfare of the weak, fatherless, poor, oppressed, and needy.
_________________

[1] International Children’s Bible Handbook, Lawrence Richards, Word Publishing, 1989, p. 186.

[2] “Felix”, Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.

The child crying is a photograph by Philippe Champoux taken in the Piave community of Nakuru, Kenya (http://www.flickr.com/photos/62584794@N00/).

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