“Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.”
Acts 24 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders, with an attorney named Tertullus, and they brought charges to the governor against Paul. 2 After Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying to the governor,
“Since we have through you attained much peace, and since by your providence reforms are being carried out for this nation, 3 we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 But, that I may not weary you any further, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing. 5 For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him. We wanted to judge him according to our own Law. 7 But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, 8 ordering his accusers to come before you. By examining him yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to ascertain the things of which we accuse him.” 9 The Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so.
10 When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded:
“Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense, 11 since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot. 13 Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me. 14 But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; 15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men. 17 Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings; 18 in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar. But there were some Jews from Asia— 19 who ought to have been present before you and to make accusation, if they should have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves tell what misdeed they found when I stood before the Council, 21 other than for this one statement which I shouted out while standing among them, ‘For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.’”
22 But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 Then he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him.
24 But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” 26 At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. 27 But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned.
In Luke 12:16-20 Jesus tells a parable, saying: “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’” James 4:13-15 says: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” In Psalm 139:6 the psalmist says: Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. People may have varying opinions about fate and destiny, about what is determined and what we ourselves determine or influence. People may have different opinions about how God is involved in our destiny. But one thing is certain the time will come for each one, when our days here are over. We can live our lives basically to one of three ends. We can live for ourselves, seeking the most pleasure and self fulfillment while we are here, with no concern for what is after this life, for ourselves or those who come behind us. We can work to build resources in this life, or to do great works so that we will be remembered when we are gone and those who come after us will have the fruit of our works while they live. Finally we can live our lives seeking the things beyond this natural realm. We can live today with our eyes and hearts set on the eternal rather than the temporal, not that we disregard our responsibilities, but that we: "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
In today’s text it says: Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him. But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” There are many people today who, like Felix, are interested, even intrigued to hear about and speak about faith in Christ. Often though, people want to hear of the promises and the benefits of faith. Their interest lies in what they receive. Like Felix when the discussion comes to righteousness, self control or the judgment against sin, which is to come, their interest wanes. The idea of changing ourselves, of acting differently is frightening to most of us. When we are confronted with the need to change, often we, like Felix, put the things of faith in Christ aside saying: “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” God is loving and compassionate. He is patient toward us. 2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. We can like Felix continue to put off our decision regarding faith in Christ. We can prioritize the things of this life. One thing though is certain, every day the news is filled with stories of people who thought for sure they would have another chance tomorrow or the next day, only to find out that like the rich man in the parable: This very night your soul is required of you/them. I don’t know the time or the circumstances that will surround my last day or yours. Jesus says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) The choice is yours. You can choose to answer, to open or you can say: “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your patience, Your compassion and Your loving kindness. Thank You for this day and for all the days You ordained for me. Today and for the rest of my days, however many that may be, I open to You. I choose to live and walk with You and for You. I choose to receive all the benefits of the kingdom of heaven and I ask, Holy Spirit, that You would enable me to walk in righteousness and self control. Amen.