Have you ever been misunderstood and mistreated? Something you said was taken wrong, and soon there were all these people who were upset with you. You are not alone. It happens all the time. The Apostle Paul had a special gift of being misunderstood and mistreated by those who he ministered to. It never stopped him even though he did get discouraged from time to time. That’s natural, but we can’t let it keep us down.
Paul said in a loud voice, “Stand up on your feet!” And he jumped up and began to walk around. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead.
One minute a Greek god, the next minute stoned. People are fickle. When something new or exciting happens people flock to it. A lame person was healed, and the people wanted to sacrifice animals to Paul and Barnabas and treat them as gods. They had to plead with the people and tear their clothes to keep them from doing it. Paul was the new and exciting thing in town, and they couldn’t get enough of him.
Some Jews came and spread rumors to stir up the crowd and the next thing you know Paul is being stoned and thrown out of the city. Where is the justice in this? When you do the work of the Lord, you will be misunderstood and mistreated. As long as people can benefit from what you do, they will love you, but once they are convicted of their sins, they will turn on you. This shouldn’t deter you from serving. After Paul was stoned, he got up and went to the next city and preached the Gospel. He wasn’t swayed by the opinions of those he ministered to. He served to please the Lord and whether he got the applause of the crowd or not didn’t matter to him.
Are you feeling burned out from serving the Lord? Does it seem like no matter what you people are never happy? Those are signs you are doing something right. Some will disagree with me, but after two decades of serving the Lord, I can tell you that what God commands us to do and what makes people happy are mutually exclusive. Don’t beat yourself up. Keep going. Refocus your eyes upon the Lord and ask him to fill your heart with love for others and the power of the Holy Spirit.