BE CAREFUL OF MIND POISONERS
“At Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles.” (Acts 14:1—4)
Wherever the gospel message goes, it always draws a reaction and interaction. Paul and Barnabas were very effective at their ministry, and many people, both Jews, and Greeks, believed. While Paul and Barnabas effectively won people over, they also stirred up others who refused to believe. When a ministry becomes effective, it also comes with uninvited challenges. There will always be people who will not like what is happening and stir up problems.
For those who don’t like what is happening, Luke called them “MIND POISONERS.” They poisoned other people’s minds against the brothers. People who poison others’ minds are people who only think of themselves. They feel threatened by the effectiveness of others. They are jealous of others. They are maintainers and not visionaries. They become protective and fearful of their waning status.
How do people poison the minds of others? Mind poisoners always need a crowd to do their bidding by stirring up trouble. They stirred others to do their dirty work. They do it by slandering, intimidating, and speaking untruthfully about the effectiveness of others. Sadly, other believers poison the minds of other believers’ because they do not understand what is happening. Being effective doesn’t always draw a good reaction. Sometimes it draws a very critical response.
But Paul and Barnabas did not stop because of opposition. They did not stop or run away from the mob. They stayed there longer and became bolder, and the Lord worked miracles through them. We can do nothing with those who are working against us and trying to undermine and make our work ineffective. We must stay the course. We must continue to do the work boldly and move things in the direction God is leading us. Let the naysayers do their thing. But do not allow their negativism to stop us from doing what God directs us.
Sometimes the opposition comes from people we know. The same one sometimes has lunch with you and tells stories with you, but they sometimes oppose what you do. I learn that not everyone who is with you is for you. I need to focus on what God wants me to do and keep my eyes on his goals and direction. The mind poisoners always feel threatened by a vision that will change and challenge their place or roles.
I learned that I could not make everyone happy. Some of my most significant challenges are not so many people that I do not know. They come from the very people I know who sometimes laugh with and have a meal, and the whole time it tricked you into thinking that they are for you. I also must be careful not to become a mind poisoner for others.
Jesus, help me not to be a mind poisoner. I ask that you guide me even when there are times that I am challenged. Please help me be effective in what you called me to do. Please help me be sensitive to your leadership and an encourager to those around me. Amen!