Acts 9:26-31 Video Devotional

“And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (Acts 9:26-31)

In our last devotional, we discussed Ananias and his (speculative) persepctive on what God asked him to do. For today, let’s bring the attention back to Paul. Now converted and growing in to the “tour de force” we know him to have been, his entrance into the world of Christianity was not easy. Mistrust, fear, anger and resentment were common emotions he faced in others as he tried to preach the gospel. People didn’t like him, and that’s fair enough – what he did was wrong, hurtful, evil, etc… Wisdom would have told anyone to be wary about Paul, especially in his newer days, but if it wasn’t for Barnabas, what would have happened?

We are all judgmental people. We are taught to look for signs and clues so that we can step forward in our lives with confidence and surety. This isn’t bad – in fact, it is an important and useful skill that can aid in a profitable life. However, as is normal in humanity, we take it too far and allow those judgments to determine how we treat people.

For example, how would you react (be honest with yourself) if your pastor got up to preach in rags? Or was unkempt and smelly? How about if they were covered in tattoos? Or worse yet, preached barefoot (those who have been with us for a while should get an extra chuckle out of that)? What if your pastor had a different skin color than you? Or was of a significantly different age? The reality of the situation is that we are quick to judge based on what we see on the outside. And God confirmed this in 1 Samuel 16 – we look on the outside, but God looks on the heart.

We need to realize that and use it as a check and balance every time a judgmental thought pops into our head about anyone. That should remind us to slow down and listen – truly listen to what that person is saying and prayerfully consider what God is telling us. Is our judgment correct? Or is this an opportunity to learn and be challenged?

God used Paul to shatter a lot of people’s perception of those whom God picks for His work. God chose Paul to be the catalyst that would spark the movement in history and turn it into a world-wide mission. Most people in that time would have picked him for death. How tightly do you hold onto your own judgments? Are you willing to let God speak to you in those moments and live with a teachable spirit? I hope so.

How has God opened your eyes during one of those times you were too quick to judge? I would love to hear some stories of how God helped you see those who are different from a holier perspective.