“So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” (Luke 17:10 RSV).
While Barnabas and Paul were preaching the gospel at Lystra, the Bible records that a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking, and Paul observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked (Acts 14:7-10). Hallelujah!
When the people of the city saw the great miracle God had done through Paul, being undiscerning, they made a wrong assumption or conclusion and thus gathered to offer worship or sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul, saying in the Lycaonian language, “the gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” (Acts 14:11-13 NKJV).
As recorded in the Scripture, the people’s astonishment did not end with mere shouting.
11 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. (NKJV).
The undiscerning people of Lystra immediately began to call the servants of God by new names, the names of their gods. They called Barnabas ‘Jupiter’ (the father of the gods), and Paul they called ‘Mercury’ (the god of eloquence or interpreter of the gods).
Besides, the priest of Jupiter, along with the multitudes, gathered at their temple, intending to offer sacrifices to Barnabas and Paul, as the gods who had come to them in the likeness of men.
What a bunch of ignorant, foolish and undiscerning folks!
However, in spite of the ignorance, foolishness, or lack of discernment of the people of Lystra, Barnabas and Paul didn’t exploit or defraud them as many servants of God today would have done. They refused to sit down or stand there comfortably to enjoy, relish, or savour the worship from this undiscerning people, or to bask in their glories as many fame-lovers or seekers men of God today would do.
How did they respond?
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out
15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them,
16 “who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.
17 “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them. (NKJV).
What a right way to respond to our flatterers or praise-singers!
With their forceful words and decisive actions, Barnabas and Paul were able to restrain the people from worshipping and sacrificing to them as gods.
What a lesson in humility for God’s servants today!
Truly, astonishing miracles, signs and wonders can provoke strange reactions from spiritually immature and undiscerning people. As it happened to Barnabas and Paul, in their excitement and astonishment, people may call you several lofty names when they see many mighty acts God has done through you or your ministrations.
People may even go to the extent of presenting to you the sacrifices – worship, praises or glories – that belong to God. How do you handle that as a servant of God?
Barnabas and Paul vividly demonstrated to us the best way to handle such a situation and the foolishness of undiscerning people!
When Barnabas and Paul found themselves being elevated to the position of the gods and were about to be given sacrifices or worship as gods, they vigorously protested and restrained the people.
They clearly demonstrated to the foolish Lycaonian people that they were men of the same nature, frailties, and weaknesses like them by their passionate words and decisive actions. They tore their clothes and cried in the public, before all the people. They knew that gods would never do that.
Moreover, Barnabas and Paul pointed the undiscerning people of Lystra to the only true God and turned the people’s attention and affection away from them to their God by their passionate preaching.
Unfortunately today, many of God’s servants, unlike Barnabas and Paul, are basking and relishing in God’s glories and praises offered to them by ignorant and undiscerning people as a result of some miracles, deliverances or healings God has wrought through them.
Sadly, many servants of God today are now bearing the lofty or eminent names and titles offered to them by their spiritually immature and undiscerning followers. Worse still, many servants of God today are dancing to the songs of praises composed for them by their ignorant followers or congregations.
Even, some greedy servants of God today are exploiting their undiscerning followers by demanding for special sacrifices, seeds, gifts, or offerings from the recipients of the miracles, healings, or deliverances God did under their ministrations.
Beloved, beware of people who call you by special, loft or eminent names after your ministrations. Beware of spiritually immature or undiscerning people who may offer you the worship, praise or glory due to God after your ministrations!
How you deal with such people or treat the worship they offer you go a long way to affect your life, ministry and destiny.
Learn from Barnabas and Paul!
The Lord Jesus admonishes His disciples in Luke 17:
10 So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” (RSV).
Reject worship from men!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, grant me divine wisdom and boldness to deal with the undiscerning people when they seek to offer to me the worship, praises and glories due to You. Help me to vigorously reject such sacrifices as Barnabas and Paul did, in Jesus’ name. Amen.