Acts 14; Joshua 22; Job 31
The message preached by Paul and Barnabas was powerful. Then it happened. Paul saw a man that needed healing and had the faith to be healed. Paul called him out and the man who had been lame from birth leaped up and began walking. The crowd went wild! It was party time. The people thought Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Mercury and they rushed to the temple of Zeus to prepare a great sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul. When Paul and Barnabas heard that they frantically sought to teach them the truth. The proclaimed the glories of the One True God. “…And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them. Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.” (Acts 14:18-19) It worked. The tide turned. It turned so much, though that those who had declared that Paul and Barnabas were gods now turned against them and sought to murder Paul. They left him for dead. Paul, though, got up and walked back to the city and left the next day. When God’s people; when God’s church does something good, the world will often celebrate what has happened. At the same time, they will seek to interpret that work or deed in their own terms. We must work constantly to ensure that when we are doing things in God’s power that people realize that it’s God working and not us. The result of shattering people’s misconceptions may cause a negative reaction. We’ll be criticized and our integrity attacked. It doesn’t matter. Keep on serving God and doing His will. If we worry more about staying true to God than about our reputation great things will happen.
Jesus, keep me near the cross. Let my actions towards others reflect Your love and grace. Keep me so focused on You and Your love that my life shows others Your greatness. When criticism, or worse, comes my way, let it be because I was faithful to your call on my life.