Life is full of choices. Some choices are easy, like what to wear in the morning or what to eat for breakfast. Other choices aren’t so easy. And sometimes when you’re trying to make a decision about something, the people in your life won’t agree with you.
You don’t have to agree with everyone. It’s actually better if you don’t sometimes. That’s part of being your own person. But in many life circumstances, you have to compromise if you want to accomplish something. Sometimes you have to back down on your stance about a specific topic or opinion in order to get along with someone else. And, depending on how important the goal you’re trying to achieve is, you have to decide if fighting about it is actually worth it.
About eight or ten days later Festus returned to Caesarea, and on the following day he took his seat in court and ordered that Paul be brought in. When Paul arrived, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around and made many serious accusations they couldn’t prove. Paul denied the charges. “I am not guilty of any crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government,” he said.
Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews, asked him, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?”
But Paul replied, “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty of harming the Jews. If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!”
Festus conferred with his advisers and then replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you will go!”
This passage caught my attention when I read it, mainly because we get to see Paul, a venerated servant of God, standing up for something that isn’t exactly biblical. It’s not strange to see Paul standing up for his faith. Good grief, that’s all the man did, everywhere he went. But this? This is a legal issue where Paul was being treated unfairly. And how did he handle it?
He stood his ground.
Paul knew the law. He knew his rights. And he knew when he was being treated fairly or not. And he didn’t have to put up with being a doormat.
This is something I struggle with. I’m one of those folks who generally turns the other cheek, and that’s definitely a good way to be. That’s what Jesus told us to do. But it’s not wrong to stand your ground when you’re in the right.
Granted, you should always be respectful and humble. But you can be respectful and humble and still demand to be treated fairly.
It’s wise to be humble, but it’s also wise to be meek. And meekness is about knowing when to fight, as much as it is about knowing when not to fight.
Following Jesus doesn’t mean you instantly back down from every conflict that comes your way. It means you handle every conflict with grace and humility, but that doesn’t equal always laying down and letting people walk all over you. If you know what’s right and you know the law and you know your place, don’t be afraid to stand up for it. Yes, be gracious and strive for peace, but don’t back down just because you’re scared of upsetting someone else.