42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the setting for today’s story. Paul and Barnabas sat in the synagogue in Antioch on the Sabbath day. The synagogue leaders invited Paul to speak and he shared a powerful message about God’s faithful relationship with the Jewish people and their ancestors. He reminded them of what God said about King David, “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” Paul continued his message with a beautiful expression of the good news that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed, everyone who believes is set free from every sin.
The people in the synagogue were very moved by Paul’s words and they wanted to hear more, so they invited Paul back the following week. When that day arrived almost the entire city gathered to listen. But, instead of joining in, the synagogue leaders became jealous of Paul and Barnabas and began to oppose them. It seems the synagogue leaders’ hearts were not in sync with God’s heart.
Jealousy is a very complex emotion. It reveals underlying feelings of fear and insecurity.
I often need to examine my own heart, my own emotions and the motivations behind my actions and words. When I take a moment to pause and ask God to help me look deeper, I find things I wish were not there. My intentions are not always in sync with who God and I want me to be. It’s in the pausing with God to examine my emotions and thoughts that I find the opportunity to make better choices, to be more effective in blessing and encouraging the people around me, and, not surprisingly, to experience more peace in my heart.
Do you occasionally allow jealousy, fear or insecurity to distort your view of others or distort your words and actions? What new practice could you incorporate into your day that would help you identify issues and give your heart time and space to sync up with God’s heart?
Thank you, God, for being fully present with me throughout this day. Help me pause occasionally and examine my heart in the light of your grace. I pray this in the name of the Father, and the Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.