"And as he thus proceeded with his defense, Festus called out loudly, Paul, you are mad! Your great learning is driving you insane! But Paul replied, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but I am uttering the straight, sound truth,” Acts 26:24-25, AMP.
Focal Passage: Acts 26
Most of us have heard the Albert Einstein’s definition of the word insanity—doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. Is that what many of us do today? If we ponder this for a moment, this can be applied to all areas of life. This is evident in the way we may handle our finances, exercise regimes, or even our relationships. What has changed that would dictate to us that our expectation of a said outcome should be different? Are any of us expecting a different response from God when our service to Him remains the same?
In the book of Acts, the twenty-sixth chapter, Paul speaks of the ultimate change of his life. In this chapter, Paul is completely open about his past. He makes plain all that he had done against the spread of the Gospel and the persecution of those who chose to follow Christ. In chains Paul, once known as the tyrant Saul, stands before King Agrippa offering to him a testimony:
“My behavior and manner of living from my youth up is known by all the Jews; [they are aware] that from [its] commencement my youth was spent among my own race in Jerusalem. They have had knowledge of me for a long time, if they are willing to testify to it, that in accordance with the strictest sect of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial [to be judged on the ground] of the hope of that promise made to our forefathers by God,(A) Which hope [of the Messiah and the resurrection] our twelve tribes confidently expect to realize as they fervently worship [without ceasing] night and day. And for that hope, O king, I am accused by Jews and considered a criminal! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? I myself indeed was [once] persuaded that it was my duty to do many things contrary to and in defiance of the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is what I did in Jerusalem; I [not only] locked up many of the [faithful] saints (holy ones) in prison by virtue of authority received from the chief priests, but when they were being condemned to death, I cast my vote against them. And frequently I punished them in all the synagogues to make them blaspheme; and in my bitter fury against them, I harassed (troubled, molested, persecuted) and pursued them even to foreign cities,” Acts 26: 4-11, AMP.
I’m sure that the king thought Paul had to be crazy considering the mindset he had as Saul. The mindset to kill, persecute and harass those who followed Christ. He was the poster child of hate, the exact opposite of Christ who is love. But something changed about him as it has with so many of us. Christ made Himself visible to Saul causing a transformation. Saul could not continue on the same path that he was on and serve God, hence becoming known as Paul—a new man.
Paul made the bottom line clear when he said, “Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision,” Acts 26:19, AMP. Something had to change and it did change. “And as he thus proceeded with his defense, Festus called out loudly, Paul, you are mad! Your great learning is driving you insane! But Paul replied, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but I am uttering the straight, sound truth.” And in him speaking the straight, sound truth Paul was truly transformed. When he was changed, his actions changed, and when his actions changed he no longer traveled great distances to persecute, instead he traveled those distances to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If we allow Him, God will change our atmosphere, our environment, and above all else our lives.
Additional Reference: Isaiah 55:6