An Antidote for Poison
This past weekend our Fellowship Group was making its way through Acts 14 and looking at one of Paul’s battles with unbelievers as he preached the gospel. When Paul seemed to be making headway with the gospel ministry it was recorded that un-believing Jews from another town came into the setting in order to “poison the minds of the people” and have a part in driving the gospel ministers away from the work. The text, among other things, reminds us how vulnerable the human mind is to negative input. Why is it that we (Christians and non-Christians) are so quick to grab hold of negative comments? It is our depravity…we are sinners and a little dirt (true or not) is always a welcome diversion. In the case of our text, it was anti-Christians who were at war with the gospel of God using that potent weapon to rally the forces against the gospel cause. And such attacks continue not only in countries where we find our opposition making use of Islam, Hindu, or one of many other religions, but also in our own country where from every direction evangelical Christians are under attack from politicians, cultural “elitists”, media influences, and yea…just about everyone not naming the name of Christ. We are at war and those of the world will not be satisfied until we are driven out of their cities. Great quantities of mind poison flow every day. We will not stop these attacks but we can respond. Our response, or antidote, is to follow Paul’s example of Acts 14…to continue to tell the gospel as if we have no other plan, for we have no other plan. When the attacks are from the outside the agenda is to press forward with the gospel…for those who have their minds poisoned against the truth we have but one antidote and that is saving faith—a work of the Spirit making use of the Gospel preached.
Sadly, though, it is not only outside the church that we find the dark side of toxicology. All too often poison is spread with a bit of a rumor, a complaint, or a critique spoken in soft and perhaps concerned tones like the mushrooms served Claudius, tasty and deadly. What should we do when the victims are not those outside of the church but ourselves? What is our antidote? Well, at the expense of sounding overly simple…which it is….I would suggest that you not drink the poison. From time to time I have people come to me and share how frustrated they are that friends of theirs continue to complain, gossip, and stir up division. They want it to stop but they do not wish to upset their friend. And that is “the rub”, they do not want to risk the relationship. But, there is a more important relationship that is to have priority. When Paul advises Titus (3:10) to twice warn a person who seeks to cause division, and then have nothing to do with them it is not done lightly but necessarily—divisiveness is poison. You may not be able to stop someone from “sharing” their thoughts but you can stop them from making you a victim. None of us is immune. It is naive and foolish to think we can give our ears to criticism and not be altered in the way we think. When someone says that man’s nose is too big you will see that nose through the lens of that criticism and soon enough all you will see is a nose dragging a body behind it. This is the way our depravity works and this is why God warns us to not give our ears to such. Not to sit at the feet of the foolish. There are Biblical ways to deal with true concerns as there is a Biblical command to not be part of the ministry of poison.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. –Philippians 4:8-9