24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
What I love about the book of Acts is how it describes the disciples and the newest believers as being incredibly passionate in all their deeds, and like Apollos, teaching and talking with “great fervor.” We can imagine the excitement of the moment. This was a time when the disciples and early apostles were going out preaching “to all the world” as Jesus commanded (Mark 16:15). Yet as surely as the church was growing, differences caused problems, disagreements and dissension among the group. Many times things did not go right – even ending in disasters like the stoning of Stephen described in Acts 7.
However, perhaps this situation with Apollos speaks to just how connected the group was to God’s love. Instead of publicly calling Apollos out or openly correcting or embarrassing him, Priscilla and Aquila served Apollos by taking him aside, explaining God’s way to him. Although we don’t know for sure how Apollos received such corrections, it doesn’t seem to have dampened his spirits, because next he is reported as greatly helping believers in Achaia. Like good leaders, Priscilla and Aquila used their private time with Apollos to really listen and to teach, instead of just embarrassing him. Because they were focused on God’s main mission, they responded in kind and with support. Priscilla and Aquila kept their focus by reflecting God’s love to Apollos instead of just cutting him down.
Can you imagine many of our leaders doing this today? With the civility of public discourse at a low ebb, it seems that it has become the main mission of so many to just call each other out at every turn and to only half listen. Regardless of which political side we are on, I hope we as Christians can just skip the constant public shaming and humiliation that we’re constantly tempted toward. Even when there isn’t shaming, there seems to be constant argument from both the left and right. Personally I know it is not easy to stay out of the fray, as I found myself in a debate online just the other day! But then I think of Priscilla’s and Aquila’s response to Apollos and I am reminded to focus my responses through the eyes of God’s love. Let’s be known as constant lovers and not constant fighters in all our disagreements.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
It often takes just one criticism to ruin our day and dampen our desire to keep going. As humans, we often remember that one criticism by disregarding a whole host of positives. What story in your life does Apollo’s correction remind you of? How did that life experience affect you? How can you give encouragement to someone today with whom you have disagreed with in the past?
Prayer: God, I know you are our Great Encourager. Today, help me to listen more than I speak. Even when I speak to others with whom I disagree, help me to see them as your children. Help me to reflect your love, that I may keep that love in mind in all my conversations. Amen.