The DEEP

Corruption Judo

Listening to the gospel for all the wrong reasons is still listening to the gospel.

Acts 24:24-27 (NIV)

 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.

This magnificent passage tells us two things that join to paint a glorious picture. First, Felix is so corrupt that he’s trying to squeeze a bribe out of Paul. How clueless is that?

Second, Felix and his wife are drawn to Paul’s gospel message. They sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. Upon hearing his message, particularly about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid. Still, he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

It’s deliciously ironic that it was his corruption, his hope that Paul would offer him a bribe, that helped keep the gospel message flowing. Of course, corruption is why he needs the gospel in the first place (not his bribe-taking, but his overall corrupt human nature).

But, as always, it’s Paul’s seeming lack of interest in getting out of jail that drives this train. Wherever Paul finds himself, that’s the place God has sent him to preach the gospel.

You’d think that if Paul fell out of an airplane, he’d just preach to the clouds on the way down.


Paul’s right; we’re usually called to preach where we are. Do you think that to take the gospel “to the ends of the Earth” you have to go somewhere like Japan or Africa? Then you must think that the center of the earth is where you are. In fact, we’re already just about as far away from Jerusalem as you can get.

Maybe God has placed you in a job or a situation for a special purpose. Think about whether your situation feels like a calling – even if it’s not great otherwise. Many modern missionaries have seen their ministries grow spectacularly after being imprisoned. The more annoying something is, the more likely it has a holy purpose.

So, pray about place. Where does the Lord want you? Ask Him to show you how to serve where you are or else to show you what needs to change and open the right doors. Also, ask God to help you gain Paul’s perspective of seeing everything as an opportunity. Life is filled with unexpected delays and changes in plans. Rather than be annoyed by them, we should be wondering, “What is He up to now?”

Actually, we shouldn’t be wondering; we should be asking – “What are You up to now?”

Ask God to help you see Him in everything and to show you how to use that for His purposes.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.