“If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” – Peter
Do you struggle to rejoice when God blesses people you dislike; or people with whom you are at odds? See the way these noble Jews in the book of Acts glorified Yahweh when they realized He had chosen to grant repentance to Gentiles-people who were formerly outside the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant.
As God sent Jesus Messiah into the world, as a final and forever atoning sacrifice through His cross, He granted many Jews to believe in Him and be saved. Even then it was difficult for those believing Jews to anticipate what would happen next: Yahweh granted the same gift of eternal life-through the covenant-to goyim (gentiles). But this is what God did!
As a gentile who missed Judaism by one generation, I am grateful to God for grafting me into the covenant. I love my Jewish friends and I want to see them believe in Jesus the way these Jews did in Acts chapter 11. When these Jews realized with Peter that God had granted life and repentance to Gentiles, through His Messiah, they did not scoff at this extension of covenant blessing. They did not suppress this truth (Romans 1) of God’s Kingdom extended to the nations.
Rather, they put away their anger and glorified God. How noble!
When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”
Beyond this, there is a general gospel principle we should see and apply to our lives. The God of the Bible is gracious and merciful. He often gives His gifts of grace to those we most dislike; to those we least respect; to those we find most undeserving. When He pours out His grace in these ways, we may be tempted to despise them, and perhaps even despise God for the work of His grace. Like Jonah who resisted God’s call to preach among the Ninevites-whom he despised-because he knew God would be gracious to them.
Instead, we can learn something from the example of these noble Jews. Wherever and to whomever we see grace at work, let us rejoice and glorify God. We can remember the height from which we have fallen, leaving us in desperate need of rescue. We can meditate on the grace we have been shown: we have been rescued! And by so doing, we will find it easier to rejoice with the unlovely and undeserving recipients of grace.
When you see grace at work, don’t stand in the way.