Run Your Race
Run Your Race
Posted by: Josh Larrabee
Focus Verse: “The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.” Acts 13:44-45
At the request of the local Jewish leaders in Antioch, Paul had just finished preaching a message of redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ. There was a tremendous response from his Jewish audience. They begged him to come back the next Sabbath and continue to teach them. Paul had told them how there was freedom from the heavy yoke of the law through the saving power of Jesus. Paul and Barnabas stayed and met with the people throughout the week and on the next Sabbath, even more people showed up. This should have been a cause for celebration for it meant the word of God was spreading throughout the city. Instead, it incited jealousy in the hearts of the Jewish leaders, for in their own knowledge and wisdom, they had never been able to draw a crowd such as this. Paul and Barnabas had gained a significant amount of influence in a very short amount of time with these people, and the leaders weren’t having it. What should have been a celebration of so many people hearing about Jesus quickly became a war between the egos of the leaders and the truth of Jesus.
How tragic it is when jealousy and envy create discord and distort the gospel. Relationships break if unchecked. Lies are disguised as truth in order to gain an advantage. Bitterness devours the heart and the mind, causing unnecessary friction. The very fall of Satan is rooted in jealousy coupled with pride. Jealousy does not lead to fulfillment; it empties one of godly purpose and passion. Motives become unhealthy and harmful. As humans, we all aspire to have influence in one way or another. Influence of any sort is a very attractive thing to possess and when we see the influence of others overshadow our own, we have a choice to make. Either we can come alongside them, knowing that the spotlight might not be on us as much as we want, or like the Jewish rulers with Paul, we can fight to regain what we think we have lost. Unfortunately, the latter is too often chosen even though the former choice is based in the Kingdom mindset. Insecurities rear their ugly heads when we feel we have lost favor with people. The truth is, we should never seek favor from anyone except God. And already, God has deemed us so precious and loved that he sent his only Son to the cross so that we could have a heavenly inheritance. That is infinitely more favor than every human to ever exist could give us.
The way God uses others should not be a point of contention, it should be a cause for celebration. If we are striving to follow Jesus and seek his ways, there will be no room left for jealous or prideful thoughts. Pride and jealousy leave no room in the heart for God to work. Don’t rob yourself of God’s plan and purpose for your life. He knows better than you what’s best. The author of Hebrews tells us that we each have a race marked out to run. Don’t try to impede on others races because the prize seems more attractive. In the end, all who follow Christ end up with the same prize of heaven and eternal perfection with God and Jesus. What if the Jewish leaders had supported Paul and Barnabas in the message they were preaching? What if jealousy had not interfered? As Christians, we are to be living representations of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What does it say about us if we are constantly trying to one up each other or make false allegations so that we can rise above one another in the social hierarchy? When it comes down to it, we can’t change anyone; only Jesus can. Jesus was the very embodiment of humility and also, the most influential person to ever walk the planet. We must strive to live in that same humility. Jealousy is rooted in pride. Don’t allow a self-serving motive to hinder the advancement of the gospel. Celebrate the lives that are changed and seek God first and foremost in all things.
Scripture Meditations for this week: