May 18, 2011: Dealing with Opposition

“Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm.  The Lord will repay him for what he has done.  You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.  May it not be held against them.  But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.  To him be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.” – 2 Timothy 4:14-18

Whenever you’re doing something right, there will be opposition.  Count on it.  Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, Paul said that anyone who wants to live a godly life in Jesus will be persecuted, and the explicit promise of suffering for living a gospel life is in all books of the New Testament except for one (1 Timothy…but 2 Timothy makes up for it by mentioning suffering in every chapter!).
We will encounter opposition. But how do we deal with it? Paul gives a great example here:
1. He calls out the opposition leader by name, but leaves all the others out of it.  This is not to spite the man, but to warn everyone else that he’s trouble.  He’s not trying to hurt the individual, but rather protect the community.
2. He forgives: “May it not be held against them.”  Like Jesus on the cross and Stephen under the stones, he prays for his enemies’ forgiveness.  Who have you been conflicting with?  Try praying that prayer.
3. He relies upon God for restoration and rescue.
4. He stays committed to the mission.  He didn’t let conflict drift his focus.  No matter what, the Gentiles were going to hear the gospel from his lips!If you’re living for Christ, you will be opposed today.  It would be naive to expect that your company, your gym, your family, and even your church will always rejoice when you take bold steps for Christ.  So live for the gospel.  And when you are opposed, take Paul’s example to heart.  Peace and Amen.

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