From "God” to "Stoning” – Paul Still Committed to Preach

When my wife and I got married in 1960 we made a commitment to one another that was sealed by a legal contract—we call it a marriage license. But as the years go by, we don’t maintain that commitment to one another because of a contract. We remain committed because of … More

Commitment

There was a temple of Jupiter near by and the priest of the temple came quickly bringing oxen and wreaths of flowers. They were ready to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas and worship them (v. 13). When these missionaries realized that the people had not heard the Gospel, but instead they had made gods out of them they immediately began to oppose what they were doing, and boldly told the people that the gods of Lystra were false (v. 14). They urged their hearers to turn from their cultic gods to the one true and living God (vv. 15-17). We still find many hero worshipers in churches today, who actually make gods out of preachers and leaders. Because we are all sinners, leaders often enjoy this special attention and soon the attention is off of Christ and, focused on human ability rather than dependence on His Spirit. A sure cure for this type of situation is to ask the Lord, not for tasks equal to our abilities, but for power to meet the impossibilities He gives.

It is interesting to note that people who deify human leaders often turn on them when those leaders do not submit and fit into the molds they have in mind for them. This is what happened as the crowd, which had just tried to make Paul and Barnabas gods, turned against them (vv. 18-20). They dragged Paul out of the city, stoned him, and left him for dead. The outstanding feature of this story is the sheer courage of Paul. When he came to his senses, his first act was to go right back into the city where he had been stoned. There could be no braver thing than Paul’s going straight back among those who had tried to murder him. A deed like that would have more effect than a hundred sermons. Being a disciple of Christ calls for total commitment.

Application

Lord, help me to be able to draw the line between respecting someone and making him too much of a hero in my life. I always want to remember that God doesn’t want someone else to take His place.

Acts 14:13-20 (English Standard Version)

And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.

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