The word of the day is “adversaries.” It is natural to expect that when we set about to serve the Lord that He would remove any obstacles in our way. But today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 16:4-12, Paul refers to many opponents that stand in the way of his plans to preach the Gospel. Today we will use Paul’s example to learn why some put roadblocks in our work for the Lord. And we will discuss how we can overcome these barriers.
In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 16:4-12, Paul closes his letter with a summary of his plans for his ministry. He writes that he is eager to visit the Corinthians and to deal with matters that he could not address in writing (11:34). Yet, he announces that he is staying in Ephesus.
Opportunities Come with Obstacles
Paul explains, “But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost for a great and effective door has opened for me, and there are many adversaries” (OSB vs. 9). This statement seems contradictory. A door has opened for “effective,” that is, productive ministry. And yet, there are many “adversaries,” that is, opponents who will obstruct him.
Still, if we think about it, we recognize that the forces that present an opportunity and the forces that hinder us from taking advantage of it go together. Success in any enterprise comes primarily from overcoming the project’s obstacles. Accordingly, Paul was committed to staying in Ephesus. He was eager to get on with the task of realizing the potential of the situation while withstanding his foes in Ephesus.
The More Vital the Service the More Demons Undermine It
So it is with everything that the Lord asks us to do in His Name. Wherever there is the call to serve, there will also be challenges to overcome. When anyone goes about serving the Lord, the devil sets about making that work difficult. And the more vital the service, the more demons he sends to undermine it.
How then should we respond to these countervailing forces? If we concentrate solely on the possibilities before us, we will fail to recognize and deal with the obstructions against us. On the other hand, if we focus solely on our adversaries, we will lose the courage to fight them. The solution is to focus on Christ. He is the one who calls us to serve Him. When we look to Him, he will guide and empower us for the work that He gives us. In Him and according to His will, we will be victorious over our adversaries.