Event(s): The visit to Iconium
Today’s Text:Acts 14:1-7
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 14:8-28
The leaders of the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia had just expelled Paul and Barnabas from that city (Acts 13:50). Yet when they came to Iconium, they again began their evangelistic efforts by preaching in the synagogue. Even though they had experienced such opposition, it was still a good way to start. It is a mark of maturity to not let the negative response of some influence crucial decisions that affect our progress.
Acts 14:1 “now it happened at Iconium…” Iconium was located approximately 60 miles to the east-southeast of Antioch of Pisidia. It was a large and rich city, 120 miles north from the Mediterranean Sea. Because several Roman roads met at this point, it was an important center point for teaching the Gospel. Paul was a very strategic thinker.
Acts 14:2 “the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles..” Though we don’t know exactly what took place, or what they did to “poison their minds against their brethren…” The MSG Bible really captures the heart of what took place here. They, “…worked up a whispering campaign against Paul and Barnabas, sowing mistrust and suspicion in the minds of the people in the street.”
Acts 14:3 “Therefore they stayed there a long time…” This was not a reactive response. The word “therefore” implies that they remained because of what was just disclosed in verse 1 and verse 2: because of the faith of those who believed and because of the opposition of those who had not.
Today’s passage is a short one, and it is as though we are in a hallway of transition as Paul passes from Iconium to Lystra, which we will find in tomorrow’s text. However, there is a very important lesson we can take from these seven verses: the people we surround ourselves with will have an influence on our outlook and on our behavior. As verse 2 pointed out, the unbelieving stirred up and poisoned (embittered) the minds (souls) of others against the brethren. When it comes to those we allow to speak into our lives, we must choose well because as 1 Corinthians 15:33 puts it, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” NIV
Likewise, we must recognize and steward the access and influence we have to others and not be ones who sow mistrust or suspicion in their hearts. Instead, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24 NLT
Today, it may be good to take an honest assessment of who is in our inner circle. Who are we allowing to speak into our lives? For example, when challenges come, and we have “one of those days”, whom do we call on, and do those conversations lift us up, giving us a kingdom perspective, pulling us closer to God? Or do those conversations add more “fuel to the fire” and end up sowing seeds of discontent, suspicion, or malice? We can be acquaintances with all, but when it comes to those we allow speak into our lives – we all need people who will bring out the best in us, not the worst.
Secondly, it would probably serve us well to also take an honest assessment of how we are stewarding our access and influence with those who look to us. Let us season our conversations with grace and let us use our words wisely, in a way that promotes the ways of the kingdom.