S (Scripture): Acts 13:44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city assembled together to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and they began to contradict what Paul was saying by reviling him. 46 Both Paul and Barnabas replied courageously, “It was necessary to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have appointed you to be a light for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
O (Observation): Jealousy takes over for the Jews gathered at the local synagogue in which Paul is preaching (in Antioch). They don’t like all of the Gentiles hanging around “messing up their things.” These Gentiles are being welcomed in because they are starting to believe this message of hope provided by Paul and Barnabas.
Paul’s words cut deep here. Not only is he claiming that these Jews are rejecting the word of God, he takes another step in claiming that the Jews simply don’t see themselves as worthy of eternal life. Because of this, Paul says he turns to the Gentiles. As he does this, he shares some words from Isaiah. Paul is acting on the prophetic words from that prophet years ago.
According to Isaiah, the Jews were responsible for being a light to the Gentiles…indeed to the whole world. Doing so would bring salvation to the whole earth. Yet God’s people got off track. Even with the Law and Prophets, they couldn’t do it for themselves. Instead, Jesus had come to fulfill the purpose of the Law and Prophets. To remind the world that salvation was always meant for ALL people, lived out first in the Jews, then to the whole world.
Paul and Barnabas were doing their part to live out this hoped-for future.
A (Application): Mine, Mine, Mine! That’s the cry of a child who is jealous. That’s the cry of an immature person who likes what he/she sees and craves it…to the exclusion of others. This goes against the purpose God has for us.
We think that the world is a zero-sum game. The more I give away, the less I have. But I have found that when I actually accomplish living out the Gospel and give away my time, talent, treasures, I somehow feel enriched. Like somehow, 2 + 2 = 5. Like I receive, even though I’m giving. That is NOT a zero-sum game.
The Gospel message works this way, too – as we give, we receive. When we share the message of Jesus, especially with those who don’t look or act like “us,” we receive blessing. It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you do it.
That’s my challenge for you today. Share God’s love with someone, even if you don’t think they deserve it. You just might be amazed…or disappointed. I can’t guarantee your success rate. Remember, Paul also received hateful responses from those with whom he shared the Gospel. But many more received the message and took the hope he was sharing to heart.
What shall you do today with what you have? With your finances? With your time? With the Gospel message?
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to know you are a God of abundance. Amen.