Read: 2Kings 3:1-4:17, Acts 14:8-28, Psalm 140:1-13, Proverbs 17:22
But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them. Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. (Acts 14:18-19)
Relate: Poor Rudolph. Every time his nose itches, the thing starts to glow. Just imagine sleeping there at night and a fly comes down and lands on your nose. Boom. You’re waking up to a neon sigh right in front of your… oh wait, that is your nose. And his fickle friends. They all laughed and called him names. For one foggy Christmas night he was the most popular guy in town, but that wore off pretty quickly. There’s limited space in Santa’s barn so some poor reindeer is stuck being his roommate. Problem is, no reindeer is a fan of nightlights. Especially red glowing ones. Did you ever see what that stuff looks like when he sneezes? He’ll never live that down. All Rudolph ever hopes for is another foggy night so he can be the hero again.
It is a dangerous thing trying to live for the approval of others. The crowd is a fickle friend. Just ask Jesus. On Sunday the crowd was ready to crown him king. By Friday they were screaming for his head. Now Paul knows what that feels like. One day he is doing everything he can to convince them he wasn’t a god to be worshiped. Apparently they got the message. They stone him, drag him outside of town and leave him for dead. Can you imagine their reaction when they find out Paul is preaching away the next town over? “Wait a minute, we killed this guy! Maybe he really was a god. Quick! Get over to Hermes temple. We need to apologize before he tries to get revenge.” And now we’re right back where we started. Fickle crowds.
React: Knowing how fickle others can be, why is it so important to me to strive for their approval? How much of my time and money is wasted on trying to get the favor of others? How much of my thoughts are wasted wondering what others think of me? How liberating would it be to know how seldom they actually do? They’re usually too wrapped up in wondering the same thing themselves. Why do we all have such a driving need for the approval of others? Why not invest our time and efforts towards the only One who has proven Himself faithful over and over again? His should be the only approval I seek.
God, let me rest in the confidence of Your love. There is a need, a deep yearning in me for the affection of others. I am a social being. I was made to belong. Help me to seek and find the fulfillment of that need first and only from You. Every other will be fickle. Every other will at times disappoint. But there is no limit to the breadth and the depth of Your love. There are no conditions on Your faithfulness. You are all I need.