“I just don’t know what he could have been thinking!” we say as we scratch our heads about someone's bone-headed decision. But then we look back and remember some of the things we did in college and say of ourselves, 'What was I thinking?!' Clearly our decisions, whether good or poor, are influenced by our thinking.
I am struck by how fickle these people were in Paul's day . . . how they were influenced first one way and then that. Not so different than today. One of Satan's
best ploys is to play with our minds; when he gains access to a weak mind, he can wreak all kinds of havoc in our thinking--causing doubt, guilt, fear, anxiety, and changing our priorities!
Paul and Barnabas continue on their travels, this being what we refer to as Paul's
first missionary journey. In Lystra, Paul heals a crippled man and the crowd thinks their Greek gods must have come down in human form, so they prepare to worship Paul and Barnabas, even bringing oxen to sacrifice to them. Luke writes "Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.
When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.’ Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. [notice the fervor in favor of Paul and Barnabas]
But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe."
First heroes, then zeroes. Paul is stoned and dragged out of the city to die.
How could the crowd be so easily influenced? Weak thinking. This passage highlights how weak thinking can leave us vulnerable. Clearly, the people were easily influenced in the above passage.
Are you a good thinker, or better put, do you think well? Are you easily influenced? Hmmm. . . requires a little thought, doesn't it? I admit that I am influenced by the culture's view of what is physically beautiful, fit, thin, no facial flaws or imperfections, no visible signs of aging. . . I'm sure my body type surely must have been meant for another era! Oh, yes, my thinking has been impacted. But then, how is it anyway that I should be so vain as to give priority in my mind to these outward things? That is the point, isn't it? What do I give priority in my mind? Do I manage my thoughts, or do they manage me?
I believe that we must be aware of our thoughts, and our thinking patterns, if we are to experience personal victory in our lives. An interview with self may be in order: What sort of thoughts are yours?_____________________________________________________________
What thoughts do you have that are pleasing to God?________________________________________________________________
Which thoughts are not?____________________________________________________________________
Paul said, "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that. . . (fill in the rest from Romans 12.2)________________________________________________________________
What does "renewing" our minds mean? Making them like new. What does this have to do with the above passage? If the people were sure of their positions, if they knew what they really thought about Jesus, about the miracles they saw performed by the apostles, about talking to those who had seen the resurrected Jesus, well, they wouldn't have gone from wanting to worship Paul and Barnabas one day to wanting to stone them several days later; they wouldn't have been so easily dissuaded, persuaded, or even just distracted from the truth of the message of Jesus Christ that Paul preached. We can't really blame them though, because we aren't much different... how easily we move away from Jesus having first place in our lives, from the gospel being our center point, to busyness, and then losing our way. . .
Let us train our minds to think about those things that are true, noble, right and pure - remaining strong in the truths of God and His Word . . . yes, let us be intentional about thinking on such things!
Think well. . .