Acts 13:42-52, As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath. Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'” When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Paul and Barnabas’ initial reception by the Galatians was very positive. (Acts 13:42) Whenever God’s will is moving forward with success, we can expect Satan to be close behind. Immediately, jealous Jews began to dissemble the Gospel message. (Acts 13:45)
Of all the people to receive the message of the Gospel, the Jews here were privileged to receive it from Paul himself. They swiftly went from being the subjects of ministry to fonts of opposition. They became inciteful instead of encouraging. They elected hate and darkness over enlightenment. They sought to turn the influential men and women of that community into vessels of obstinance. Ultimately, they were being used as tools of Satan, but self-righteous people are often blinded to their own motives. Satan has used this technique of personal blindness to affect many people as he uses them to do his will.
A spiritual exercise – let’s think of the last week. Look back on your encounters and interactions and concentrate. Did you exercise power for good or bad? Did you take advantage of a person’s loyalty to attack another? Did you seek to do good without any recognition? Did you influence a spouse in reference to a decision for which they will take responsibility? Did you influence a friend who is upset with someone? Did you impact a group at school or in a meeting? Did you influence your children in their decisions? Consider each point of influence and ask yourself what role you played and how be better at it in the future.
You are likely more influential than you might realize. Did you hug someone with simple love and appreciation in your heart? Did you point a friend toward making their relationships better with others around them? Did you express a Godly opinion which impacted the opinion of others? We constantly exercise influence. It’s a blessing and a gift. Actually, it is a great trust. It’s a power we should wield with great responsibility. Always be aware that the influence of just a few people can affect a large group. Influence with God’s greater goals in mind. Be an “uplifter” of people. Godspeed on your journey.