Paul and Barnabas amaze me in this passage. They’re out away from home, preaching the gospel, and leading people to faith in Jesus. But the Jewish leaders don’t like it. They’re literally recruiting anyone they can find in Antioch to persecute them and get them to stop. They ended up driving Paul and Barnabas out of the city altogether. And how did Paul and Barnabas respond to this? They were “filled with joy.”
I’m sorry, what?!?!?
A city full of people hated them and kicked them out, and they were filled with joy? That’s impressive. Most people would get mad and discouraged and probably quit. But not them.
So, how did they do it?
It’s pretty simple actually. They chose joy.
They were doing what God called them to do. They stayed focused on that mission rather than how people reacted to it. They stayed focused on obedience to the Holy Spirit rather than to their feelings about their circumstances. They stayed focused on the unconditional acceptance they had in Jesus rather than the rejection they had from people. They chose to find joy in serving the Lord, and they let the rest of it go.
Man, did I need to hear this.
I needed to be reminded that my focus needs to be on doing what God called me to do. I need to stay focused on that mission, not on how people react to it. I need to stay focused on obedience to the Holy Spirit rather than to my feelings about my circumstances. I need to stay focused on the unconditional acceptance I already have in Jesus rather than the rejection I’m getting from some of the people around me. I need to find joy in serving the Lord and let everything else go.
Joy is a choice. And I’ve got to choose it every day. It’s always a good day when Jesus is on the throne.