Have you ever second guessed yourself? Two months ago, I prayed about and purchased a second car. It was a good buy that happened at just the right time while I was on a business trip. Fast forward two months, and I was second guessing my decision. There was nothing wrong with the first car, but I saw “the perfect car” somewhere else for the perfect price. If only I had waited. If only I had been patient. Was I wrong in buying the first one? Should I have waited for this one?
Then there are more important topics of second guessing. After telling someone about Jesus and receiving a bad response, do you second guess yourself? As you struggle with the person’s response, you probably go through the conversation in your mind trying to figure out where you went wrong. Did I speak too boldly? Did I quote the wrong Bible verses? Was I too hasty in what I said? Did I mess things up?
You are not alone. Many Christians have wondered about decisions they made on the spur of the moment. Paul, in particular, had the opportunity to second guess himself after giving his speech to Festus, Agrippa and Bernice.
When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”Acts 26:30-32 NKJV
After hearing his Christian testimony, the leaders discussed Paul’s case. During their conversation, they concluded two things: (1) Paul had done nothing worthy of death or imprisonment, and (2) Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar. This is where Paul could have second guessed himself.
Paul had used his rights as a Roman citizen to parry the attempt of Festus to have him tried in Jerusalem. Paul had already escaped a murder plot. After being warned by his nephew, he had been escorted out of Jerusalem by a small army. It was very probable that this would have happened again if he returned to Jerusalem for trial. With Festus trying to appease the Jewish leaders, it was clear that he was putting Paul in a difficult position. By appealing to Caesar, Paul made a wise decision.
But… if Paul had waited for the meeting with Agrippa, he might have been set free. Festus and Agrippa agreed that Paul was not worthy of death or chains. So, it was possible that he could have been set free. Being set free would mean freedom to travel to cities preaching the gospel again. Was Paul’s decision really as smart as we first thought?
What does second guessing do?
- It overlooks the need of the moment.
What happened in Acts 26 has no bearing on what happened in Acts 25. When Paul appealed to Caesar, he was faced with imminent death at the hands of those plotting to murder him (Acts 25:3). If he had agreed to Festus’ suggestion, he would most probably have been killed in or on the way to Jerusalem. There would have been no meeting with Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice if Paul had agreed to go to Jerusalem. The need of the moment led Paul to appeal to Caesar. It was the right decision at the right time.
- It overlooks God’s plan.
Paul’s decision to appeal to Caesar was part of God’s greater plan. Did Paul have any idea what God’s plan was? Yes, in Acts 23:11, you may recall that God had told him that he would testify for Jesus in Rome. Being freed from his chains would have been nice, but it was not necessarily part of God’s plan for Paul at the time. God wanted Paul to go to Rome. Appealing to Caesar was part of that plan.
It is easy to look back and second guess your decisions. But in most cases, as you sought God’s help and used the wisdom he gave you, you actually made the best decision you could at the moment. As you seek the Lord’s will each day, ask him for wisdom and direction and then make the best decisions you know how at the moment. Second guessing yourself will only cause you to become discontent. You may want to be free when God wants you to be in prison! Trust God to work his plan through you and the decisions you make.