How many times have you wanted something for someone more than they wanted it for themselves? If you are like me, probably a lot of times. What do you do in this situation? When they refuse to listen do you keep "beating" them or do you walk away and devote your time to someone who wants to change? In Christian counseling, we are often faced with this dilemma. It is hard to determine where to draw the line; and when we do walk away, it is sometimes difficult to not take the "rejection" personally.
I think that Paul and Barnabas had plenty of practice on handling rejection. We find them in Acts 13 boldly preaching the gospel to the Jews. Let's look in on part of their response to rejection:
Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:46)
Praise God that they turned to the Gentiles (aka, Me) ! Okay, back to the story...
Do you think that Paul and Barnabas sulked away when they realized they weren't being listened to? I think not. After all, in v 48 we hear of many Gentiles that believed and received eternal life. If Paul and Barnabas would have gotten their feelings hurt, think of how many people wouldn't have heard the gospel. Of course, then the Jews wouldn't have gotten mad again and kicked P & B out of "their coasts" (v 50).
Here's where the application to us comes in. Think about the following verses and put yourself in Paul's or Barnabas' sandals. If you were "kicked out" would you have done the same?
But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 13:51-52)
I bet they kept their heads held high because they did what God asked them to do and rejoiced in the good things that happened instead of dwelling on their misfortunes. What a lesson. If we keep our focus in the right place, we will be joyful no matter what happens.