Bribes and Judges
The man sitting across from me in my study had clout in our area. He was in the midst of an ugly divorce—a divorce where he was clearly in the wrong. Like all of us when we know we’re guilty, he didn’t want to admit he was wrong. And he was looking for support from a young pastor. “Dave, back me in this marriage situation and I promise, your church will never have to worry about finances again.”
Of course judges and other political leaders face the temptation to take bribes, but so can pastors. That’s why Solomon in Ecclesiastes warned, “Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:7).
Now the Romans prided themselves on their justice. That’s why Governor Felix set up the hearing with Paul’s accusers and then allowed him to counter their charges. He even sat down with his Jewish wife, had a personal hearing with Paul, and listened as he explained what it meant to have faith in Jesus as the Messiah and how this generated right living, self-control, and the right preparation for the final judgment.
Governor Felix played all the political games. On the one hand he sat down in his court and listened to both sides, with his Jewish wife he listened to Paul, and even said he would set up another meeting. When the Spirit of God generated the fear of God in his heart, he should have believed. Instead, the sad truth was that he wanted Paul to pay him off. When Paul wouldn’t do it, he kept him in jail for another two years.
“Now after several days, Felix came together with his wife Drusilla, a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Messiah Jesus. And as Paul was discussing about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became alarmed, and replied, ‘Go away for now; when I have a more opportune time, I’ll call you to talk again.’ At the same time he was hoping Paul would pay him off with a bribe.
A full two years later Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but desiring to win favor with the Jews, he left Paul in prison.” Acts 24:24-27
Because my parents taught me even as a child that characters like Felix were the bad guys in God’s Word, it actually wasn’t much of a temptation when the big man tried to bribe me. I also made it my policy as a pastor to let gifted leaders in our church handle the finances. I had no idea who gave what, and this gave me the freedom to simply teach and apply the Word without any temptation to be bribed by the opinions of the big givers.
LORD, protect four of my friends who are serving as judges from being like Felix. Help them look to you for guidance, to accurately seek to discern the facts in their cases, and not be swayed by money in their decisions. Help me to remember that in the end the Felix’s of the world don’t’ win, and especially help my friends who live in cultures where bribery is the way things get done, to have strength to counter the culture and live honestly and justly.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!