Daily Devotional: Day 131
“Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46, NKJV).
Paul and Barnabas spent time in Antioch of Pisidia teaching people about Jesus, the Messiah. On two consecutive sabbaths, they spoke the Word of God. On the second occasion, however, certain Jews in Antioch fiercely opposed Paul and Barnabas, contradicted their message and stirred up persecution against them. On the bright side, though, a considerable number of people believed the Word of God. Today’s Scripture reading focuses on part of Paul and Barnabas’ response to the Jewish opposition. Let’s proceed to examine the reading and see what we can learn from it.
When Jesus came into the world, He understood that His mission was to focus primarily on the Jewish people, not Samaritans or Gentiles. For example, He once stated, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24; emphasis added). The Apostles also understood this. Thus, at the beginning of their apostolic ministry, their priority was to preach to Jews first. Against this background, we can understand what Paul and Barnabas said to the Jews in Antioch: “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first.”
But notice that right after affirming the necessity of preaching to the Jews first, the Apostles turned quickly to the Gentiles. Their charge against those Jews was that they had rejected the word of God and had judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life. These are serious words. Notice also that Paul and Barnabas did not push; they didn’t employ any tactics to get those Jews to believe. They understood when to stop, leave them alone and move on to someone else. That is the proper way of ministering the Gospel to people.
We can learn many important lessons from today’s story. But as usual, there’s only so much we can discuss in a Devotional; so, let’s focus on one important point, and that is: Some people do not want to be saved.
If you are not aware of this, you will waste your time and resources on them, while those who are truly hungry for truth and salvation are left without help. People who do not want to be saved are usually people who are not lovers of the truth. Even God leaves such people alone, and He gives them what they deserve by sending them a strong delusion (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). People who love truth don’t need much convincing, for they recognize truth when they see it and they will follow it wholeheartedly, even if the truth is a hard pill to swallow.
Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, prayer and study of the Bible, learn to recognize those who do not want to be saved. Share the Word of God with them, but do not waste time on them. If they are interested, you will know. If they are not interested, your job is done. Don’t push; don’t insist. Respect their choice and move on to someone else.
May the Lord let His face shine on you today! Amen.
For further study: Romans 1:18-22