Did You Think It Would Be Easy?
Can two contradictory things be true? Probably not. Can we see a contradiction where none exists? That’s more likely.
The Apostle Paul made two seemingly contradictory assertions in the same sentence:
But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
(I Corinthians 16:8-9)
Wait, what? Ask him with me: “Paul, how can your work be effective if you have many adversaries? I mean, if your work is effective, doesn’t that mean everyone is convinced by your preaching? Aren’t you becoming famous? Aren’t you popular?”
But, when we stop and think it through, we realize that Paul understands the reality of Christian service. Take Jesus, for example. Jesus was effective – many lives were being transformed.
Zacchaeus said, “If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I [now] restore it fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)
Zacchaeus was a changed man, and it was because Jesus was doing effective work. But at the same time, Jesus was accumulating a long list of adversaries, including some very powerful people.
Sometimes, you only have one adversary (Satan), and the difficulties show up as circumstances, rather than as people. As an example, consider the trouble-upon-trouble experienced by Job.
Christian, here is the Satanic delusion: You may be tempted to think that, because of adversaries or trials, your work isn’t effective.
The reality – experienced by Jesus, Paul, and many others – is that effective work generates opposition.
When that happens to you, what should you do? Do what Paul did: stay in Ephesus. Stick it out. See it through. Bring your work to completion. Don’t give up. Don’t stop. Don’t lose faith. Don’t lose hope.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
(I Corinthians 16:13-14)
Listen to Paul’s encouragement: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
[16 September 2017]
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Books by Bob Young