“Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:”
Acts 14:14, 15
Paul and Barnabas were preaching and ministering in Lystra when the Lord healed a man who had been crippled all of his life. Seeing what had been done, the people cried out, “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men” (Acts 14:11). Barnabas, they called Jupiter, and Paul, they called Mercurius. Our text gives us the response of God’s servants to such improper behavior. They cried out saying, “Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you.”
Why is it that men have a tendency to want to deify mortal men? Thank God for faithful servants of the Lord, but they are not to be worshipped. Of course, the citizens of Lystra were an idolatrous and superstitious people. Our Scripture records that Paul had preached to them that they “should turn from these vanities unto the living God.” Paul had been trying to teach them to turn from their idols, but they wanted to call him a god when they saw the miracle performed in the crippled man.
We should respect and honor godly, spiritual leaders, but we need to always remember that they are only men. Many Christians have stumbled seriously in their spiritual walk because they saw some pastor or leader make a mistake. We want our leaders to be sincere and godly, but perfect they will not be, because they are only men. We pray for them to give us good advice and counsel, but their advice is not infallible because they are only men.
There is another important thing to notice in the great account of this healing and the response to it. Paul and Barnabas quickly and decisively refused to allow the people to think of them more highly than they should. There is something very wrong with men who will receive the worship of those who follow them. Again, it is proper for people to respect and honor their spiritual leaders, and to go to them for advice, but to allow them to give men the praise that is due to God is wrong. As leaders, our goal is not for people to rely completely on us, but to learn to rely upon the Lord.