Summary: A person in ministry experiences both, pain and pleasure. From 2 Timothy 4 we can see that Pastor Paul experienced: Pain from Opposition, Pain from Disappointment, Pain from Abandonment and Pleasure of Partnership, The Pleasure of Restoration and The Plea
We had a recital yesterday from our music school. I was looking around at our community, enjoying Sam’s performance. For those of you who do not know him, Sam is a student of the Bangalore Conservatory. He has autism, somewhat rare condition, in which his brain does not function like everyone else’s. Sam gave a beautiful performance last night. For me the pleasure of the program was not just hearing some music, although he did a fine job with what he did. But just looking around at the community, the way that so many people in the campus have befriended Samuel and supported him in the program; seeing the peace and joy and the enjoyment that everyone experienced was very heart-warming. And when I have experiences like that and see that the Lord brings people together, the way that God takes all of us from our different backgrounds, each of us with our various strengths, weakness, personalities, problems and pains, bringing us together, so that we can work together to learn what it is to be God’s people, it is really amazing.
This morning we will see what it means to be working together in the church. We are going to talk about Pastor Paul, who experiences many pains, but also many pleasures in the ministry.
READ 2 Timothy 4:9-18
Paul is explaining to Timothy his recent experience. And we know from this passage and later passages that Paul knows that he is about to die. In fact 2 Timothy is the last written record that we have of the words of Paul.
So this great apostle, who established so many churches, whose ministry was so extra-ordinarily blessed and anointed, brought many thousands of people to Christ, and because of whom about 12 out of the 28 letters of the NT were written by him. He was the author although other people did the writing in many cases.
So we can see in his expression to Timothy of what is grieving him as well as what is causing him joy. And it looks like his relationship with Timothy is part of what brings joy.
PAIN FROM OPPOSITION
Anybody who goes into ministry and decides to do God’s service is going to experience opposition. It is just a part of doing God’s work. Jesus Himself was opposed. He said, “If they accepted My word, they will accept yours. If they have rejected Mine, they will reject yours too. The servant is not greater than His Master.” So you will face opposition.
Paul also faced opposition in his day, especially from Alexander the copper smith. We read about him in 1 Timothy 1.
“Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” 1 Timothy 1:19-20
We see him first time mentioned in Acts 19. He’s listed among the Jews of Ephesus, not the Christians. There is tremendous opposition against the believers in Ephesus. One gentleman who makes idols to their favorite god is losing some of his income because so many people who used to worship Artemis are coming to Christ, and they are no longer buying his idols. So he begins to stir up the city against Paul and against the people in the church. And they go to this big amphitheatre. Luke describes it beautifully. There is a whole crowd that went to the stadium and many people in the crowd did not even know why they were meeting together. They were just following. But somebody began to yell out, “Great is Diana of Ephesus.” And they were just yelling for an hour or two. Nobody knew what they were meeting for, but they knew they wanted to yell. The Jews pushed Alexander forward to offer defense. It was when he began to speak that all these other people started to make a ruckus. So Alexander was a leader among the Jews, but he was against the church.
Paul faced the opposition of the Roman government as natural, and as opportunities for ministry. The opposition from Judaizers, people who should have been Paul’s natural friends, was much more difficult. Obviously, Paul was also Jewish. So Alexander in essence would have been a brother to Paul. But rather than supporting Paul, he opposed Paul. It looks like a group would follow Paul’s team to different cities, and if they were bringing people to Christ, they would follow them around and oppose them. So Paul had the pain of opposition.
Paul deals with this kind of opposition by handing such people over to God. Notice he does not scheme and connive some means of counter-attack. He does not handle Alexander as a physical opponent. Instead, he hands him over to spiritual judgment, and leaves it in God’s hands.