Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You may speak in your defense."
So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defense: "I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, for I know you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!"
— Acts 26:1-3 NLT
Paul began his defense using appropriate words of respect to address the dignitaries and leaders who were listening to him. However, we must not slip into a cynical skepticism about Paul's heartfelt honesty in the words he said. Paul genuinely paid respect to Roman leaders whether they were worthy of that respect or not — as also did Jesus.* Paul later revealed that he genuinely hoped to lead those listening to him into saving faith in Jesus.** In a world of caustic public political speech and behind-the-back rancid and scathing criticism, we must follow Paul's example of respectfulness and not the world's way of speaking. We cannot stand up for God's righteous character if we abandon God's mercy and gracious compassion (Jonah 4:1-3; Psalm 103:7-12; Jeremiah 9:23-24). Our goal must not be the destruction of those who oppose the ways of God or even our political or other preferences, but our goal must be leading them to know Jesus and follow his ways! (The book of Jonah is a great reminder of this truth!)
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don't let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.^
In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.