I like to be liked. It’s definitely my preference. I’m guessing it’s yours, too. God has equipped me with decent people skills and a good ear for listening. This often equates to favor with people. Sometimes, however, my desire to be liked can become disproportionate to the greater calling on my life: to shepherd people to Jesus with truth spoken out of genuine love born by the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 13, we jump into a marvelous story of the first missionary activity and the commissioning of Paul and Barnabas. As these heroes of our faith embrace their calling and zealously engage in the activity of their mission, I see some similarities between them and, um, … us.
Barnabas was a very likeable fellow. Throughout Acts, he seems to garner the favor of all. His very name means “son of encouragement.” God gifted him to be generous of heart and resource, and no one benefited more from Barnabas’ likeability than Paul. Paul’s acceptance into the early church took place because Barnabas went to bat for him.
I can imagine the apostles’ conversation upon meeting Paul after his conversion: “Well, I don’t like this Paul fellow. Isn’t his real name Saul? But I really like Barnabas.”
Paul liked to be liked, too. Paul’s ache to be liked, to be accepted in both his personality and ministry, is clearly evident in his epistles, such as 2 Corinthians. Yet even there, we see that all such desire was secondary to the message of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit.
“But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:50-52, NIV).
Some in Antioch of Pisidia really, really liked Paul and Barnabas; in fact, they owed their very lives to them. Others despised Paul and Barnabas; and really, who couldn’t like Barnabas?
Maybe you know something of this, too. Where there’s plenty of favor on your life—enjoy! It is a gift of God. And where there’s relational struggle, ask yourself this question: “Is it due to my obedience to the Holy Spirit?”
If so, all desire to be liked is yielded to the leadership of God. If not, well, that’s for another devotional about forgiveness and humility. May you be filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit!
By: Chris Manginelli, senior pastor of Mill Creek Foursquare Church in Lynnwood, Wash.
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