1 The same thing happened in Iconium; they entered the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brothers. 3 So they stayed there for some time and spoke boldly in reliance on the Lord, who testified to the message of His grace by granting that signs and wonders be performed through them. 4 But the people of the city were divided, some siding with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5 When an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to assault and stone them, 6 they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian towns called Lystra and Derbe, and to the surrounding countryside. 7 And there they kept evangelizing.
8 In Lystra a man without strength in his feet, lame from birth, and who had never walked, sat 9 and heard Paul speaking. After observing him closely and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 Paul said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet!” And he jumped up and started to walk around.
11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the form of men!” 12 And they started to call Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the main speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the town, brought oxen and garlands to the gates. He, with the crowds, intended to offer sacrifice.
14 The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their robes when they heard this and rushed into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men! Why are you doing these things? We are men also, with the same nature as you, and we are proclaiming good news to you, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16 In past generations He allowed all the nations to go their own way, 17 although He did not leave Himself without a witness, since He did what is good by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and satisfying your hearts with food and happiness.” 18 Even though they said these things, they barely stopped the crowds from sacrificing to them.
19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. 20 After the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the form of men!” And they started to call Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the main speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the town, brought oxen and garlands to the gates. He, with the crowds, intended to offer sacrifice.
— Acts 14:11-13
What are some things people can become slaves or addicted to? The writers of the New Testament understood the issue of slavery. It’s much more than just being a slave to another person. It pertains to us all.
Outside of Christ, we’re all slaves—whether that’s a slave to sin or something else. The New Testament writers made it clear who they were slaves to—Jesus Christ.
How do you determine who or what you are slave to? Look at what you worship.
So how do you determine what you worship? Look at what’s important to you, what you think about, and what you spend your time, money, and energy on.
Paul and Barnabas were just trying to share the good news of Christ to the people in Listra. But the people wanted to make them gods (verses 11-13).
When we see people blessed in some particular way—with physical beauty, extreme intellect, exceptional athleticism, great singers and entertainers, etc.—it’s easy to elevate them above what we should.
They’re elevated to “gods” all the time, and we don’t even realize we do it.
Oh, we may not call them gods like the people of Listra did, but we treat them like they are. And then we start following everything they do—on Twitter, websites, and travel plans. We tell everyone else about them.
Be careful when looking for contentment in people and things rather than in God. Contentment has little to do with circumstances and everything to do with attitude.
The fundamental question isn’t, "What do you have?" but "What do you want?" The truth is, we’ll never find happiness in the acquisition of more-more-more or people.
Contentment isn’t something we find; it’s something we decide. When we make the choice to be content, we receive three priceless gifts:
- Current enjoyment instead of constant striving.
- Complete freedom to recognize and applaud another's achievement without envy or worship.
- Cultivation of a genuinely grateful spirit.
Just like the people of Listra, we need to be careful. We’re going to be slaves to something. The person or thing we worship today is dead news tomorrow—just like the people thought Paul and Barnabas were.
Joshua got it right a long time ago. He said, “But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh” (Joshua 24:15).
Only Jesus brings us true contentment.
Decide to be content. Decide to be a slave of Jesus Christ instead of this world. Choose this day whom you’ll serve. Serve the Lord and you’ll know the joy of your salvation.
- Who are some people you’re trying to make your god?
- Have you gotten to the point where you recognize they’ll not bring you true contentment?
- Consider starting every day by telling Jesus: “Today, I’ll be a slave for You!” Who’s done more for you than Him?