It’s easy to skim such verses in Scripture, to gloss over them. Maybe it is wishful thinking, or even an aversion to conflict. Yet, Scripture is honest. It tolls loudly the bell of suffering, of conflict, for anyone who names the name of Jesus and enlists in His service.
I’m talking about verses like II Timothy 4:14. There in the concluding remarks of the pastoral epistle the veteran Paul tells the rookie minister Timothy this: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much more harm, but the Lord will requite him for what he has done.” There you have it. The occupational hazard of ministry-conflict.
I have been a minister over forty years. I’ve been blessed, stretched, befriended, corrected, and enriched in every way. But I’ve also been spat upon, slandered, run off, undercut by disloyalty, and called the devil himself.
But so was Jesus. And a disciple is no better than his master. And so, too, was Paul wounded by others in the line of fulfilling his duties. Of Alexander Paul wrote of “great harm.” He detailed, “He fought against everything we said…” “Be careful of him,” Paul told Timothy.
Note Paul never advised we even the score. He left judgement to God. He eschewed revenge, saying, “The Lord will requite…”
There’s a saying in ministry and attributed to Winston Churchill: “You’ll never get to town if you stop to throw a rock at every dog that barks at you.” Paul’s advice is never to react but to act, to be proactive.
So here is the bottom line of church labors and the accompanying joys and miseries. It sums up the apostle Paul’s forward thinking, positive, proactive ilk; don’t let what the world has done to you be greater than all the Lord has done for you.” -Stephen Crotts & Bryan Crotts