PRAY: Father, thank you for not only saving me, but also using me. Help me see your message as good news. Let me speak in such a way that great numbers believe. Unless you speak through me, I labor in vain. You are in control. I am not. I trust your outcomes over my opinions. Amen.
READ: Acts 14:1-20
Sometimes we allow people’s response to the gospel to dictate our worth and faithfulness.
In Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas receive multiple responses to the gospel being preached. In Iconium they speak “in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believe” (v 1). However, not many verses later, we read that Paul and Barnabas learn of the city’s plan to “mistreat them and to stone them” (v 6) so they flee.
In Lystra the response of the people is incredible. In fact, after seeing a crippled man walk, the people of Lystra lift up their voices and shout, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” (v 11). They begin to worship Paul and Barnabas for what they perceive as great power. However, this same community will later stone Paul and drag him out of the city, supposing he was dead (v 19).
Moral of the story: People are fickle, but God is not. Just because people don’t respond the way we’d like, doesn’t mean we were unfaithful.
If Paul and Barnabas put their hope in the response of men, they would be delusional or depressed. There never seems to be moderate responses when the unvarnished gospel is preached. It’s either overwhelming praise or utter persecution. Yet, they don’t live for the opinions of men. Obedience is our job, and outcomes are God’s.
The irony is, when we concentrate so much on how people will respond, we lose the ability to preach boldly. Yet, when we let go of what we cannot control, we are free to help out of an overflow of God’s approval. The average man would give up mentally, after being stoned and dragged out of the city, but Paul rises and enters the city again. Why? Obedience is Paul’s goal. Outcomes are God’s.
Whose response are you trying to control this week? Ask God to free your heart, soul, and mind of the things you cannot control. Ask God to help you walk by faith, and not by sight.
By: Grant Skeldon, Founder, Initiative Network