“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You have permission to speak for yourself.'”
As we near the end of the book, I have to say it has been a joy to preach through the book of Acts! It is filled with examples and lessons that I need to learn and apply. As I continue to look at the “Acts of Acts” in this sermon series, it seems like each chapter has the apostles, or early Christians, involved in an act that we have a tendency to try to avoid. Yet it was these very acts of God in their lives that transformed a fledgling group disciples in disarray into a mighty force that turned the known world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a time where we need such a transformation in the church and in the lives of the individuals who follow Jesus.
Paul continues his journey toward Rome in Acts 26 as he is brought before King Agrippa to be questioned regarding charges against him to be presented to Caesar. Paul has appealed to Caesar but Festus and Agrippa have no idea what crime to tell Caesar that Paul has been charged with. In an attempt to find answers, Paul is given the opportunity to speak. As we continue to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within us, there are some lessons we need to learn regarding the Act of SPEAK.
- Stop: The Act of SPEAK begins with what may seem like an unlikely place, the act of Stop! Most of the time we are so quick to speak that we fail to stop and listen for what God wants said. Paul had opportunity to speak about Jesus because he had first stopped and realized Jesus was truly Lord. If we are going to give an answer for the hope that is within us, we must first stop and set apart Christ as Lord in our life. God says that it is out of the overflow of our heart that our mouth speaks so it is imperative that we stop and fill our heart with the word of God before we open our mouth to speak. . When we are engaged in the Act of SPEAK, we must make sure we first Stop and listen for God’s direction and leading in what we say.
- Permission: The Act of SPEAK also requires us to wait for Permission. Paul had been a prisoner under Roman guard for at least two years before he was brought before King Agrippa and given permission to speak! This is another important part of why we must stop before we speak — we need permission to speak into a person’s life. When we speak truth into a person’s life without earning permission, the seed of truth often falls on a very hard heart. It is through time and relationship that we soften the ground of a person’s heart and gain permission to speak so truth has an opportunity to grow when it is spoken. James tells us that everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. When we speak without permission, we are more likely to speak out of anger and reaction with no listening taking place at all. We are able to grow in the Act of SPEAK when we invest time and love to gain permission before we speak.
- Examples: When you have stopped and gained permission, the Act of SPEAK requires that you share Examples. When God uses you to speak His truth into a person’s life, He has prepared you for that purpose with examples that show His love. As Paul is addressing the accusations against him, he begins by sharing his story and the example of how he went from being a pursuer of God to a follower of Jesus. He even uses his life example of being a persecutor of Christians to explain his story. God knows our history, both good and bad, and He knows how to use your example to help others see His goodness. Far too often we try to hide parts of our example because it embarrasses us and we would just as soon people only knew the whitewashed version of who we are. People need to know how God has transformed your life so they will believe the transforming power of God can change their life. When it comes to living out the Act of SPEAK, sharing our example as God leads us to helps others to see how God can love and forgive them.
- Admit: The Act of SPEAK also requires that we Admit who we really are and what God has done in our life. Paul reaches the point in sharing his example that he must admit the truth behind the accusations against him — that he believes in the resurrection of the dead through the power of Jesus. Sometimes we are so afraid of what people might think that we given the opportunity to speak about our belief in Jesus, we fail to admit that what is seen is His power working through us. When people comment or ask about our hope, our joy, our faith, our confidence, our whatever — do we admit it comes from Jesus or do we brush it off with some casual answer? We must be careful to not claim credit for what God has done, and for what only God could do, in our life. The Act of SPEAK gains its power from your willingness to admit that it is only Jesus that has given you any real hope.
- Kindness: The Act of SPEAK is only effective when done from a heart of Kindness. It is hard for me to imagine Paul being given the opportunity to speak in his own defense after years in custody and his primary concern is not for his release, but for the salvation of his hearers. When we speak with kindness, we speak out of concern for the other person not with our interest in mind. We must constantly ask God to purify our motives when we have the opportunity to speak so that we would always look out for the interests of others above our own. When our primary motivation in speaking to a person about Jesus is for our benefit or to make our life easier, then we are speaking out of selfishness and not kindness. When living the Act of SPEAK, it is important to constantly evaluate our heart and motives so that genuine Kindness prevails.
So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of SPEAK? Do you Stop and take the time to listen to God before you speak? Do you invest time and love to earn Permission to speak God’s truth to a person? Do you share the real Examples of where you’ve been and what God has done in your life? Do you willingly Admit that Jesus is at the heart of every good thing you have or do? Do you speak with Kindness to everyone as you look out for their interests above your own? I pray that your involvement in the Act of SPEAK will boldly show, and tell, the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!