Acts 23:25-35: Friday 30th June 2017: Varnishing the truth.

“25 He wrote a letter as follows: 26 Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings.  27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.  31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, ‘I will hear your case when your accusers get here.’ Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.”NIV UK

‘’This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen’’ (28).          I read these words with a wry, inward smile. What capacity we have to cover our own backs; to adjust the story so that we look better than we actually are. As we tell our tales, we can exaggerate. We can re-write history so that we appear more heroic than we really are.  We remember the Commander did not discover that Paul was a Roman citizen until after rescuing him (22:22ff), and that he came within a hair’s breadth of having him tortured to elicit information from him. He was saved from a serious error just in time when it was brought to his attention that Paul was a citizen of Rome. He left that bit out – of course!

‘Image management’, they call it. It’s when you try to present yourself (or someone else) in the best light. This image projection may bear little resemblance to reality. What counts is that it should be successful: that people come to believe in the version of you that you want them to see.  However, the Bible says that our ‘yes’ should be ‘yes’, and our ‘no’ be ‘no.’ We should be people of simple, straightforward honesty.

PRAYER: Lord, please help me to walk in the light.