…I’m sorry, brothers… (Acts 23:5).
That doesn’t seem too controversial nor insensitive, but the next move does—Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth. What?! That seems like a bit of an over-reaction on the part of the high priest, or maybe a bit of show of force to let Paul know who was really in charge here.
If you were Paul and got slapped in the face for a pretty simple and true statement, how would you respond? Paul responded like I think I may have, with a little verbal “slap” of his own: “God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?”
Yeah, take that, you big meanie!
Those standing closest to Paul must have gasped in horror as they said, “Do you realize who you’re talking to?”
Paul is an old man by this time. He’s been through shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonments, without food, traveled more miles than he can count, preached more sermons than he can remember. His body was giving out on him, and his eyesight was especially weak. Clearly, Paul didn’t realize to whom we was addressing his remarks.
But Paul immediately owned up to his mistake. “I’m sorry, brothers. I didn’t realize he was the high priest, for the Scriptures say, ‘You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.’”
A mark of a godly leader is one who is quick to apologize.
Paul could have made excuses. He could have justified what he said by explaining, “He deserved it because of how he spoke to me!” or “He started it!”
But Paul offered no excuses or justifications, just a quick, simple, sincere apology.
Oh, that all Christian leaders were as sensitive as Paul and as quick to apologize!
This is part 26 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.