When Your Ministry Is Questioned
1Cor. 9:1 ¶ Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
1Cor. 9:2 If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
Paul had gotten word from Chloe’s people that there were problems in the church in Corinth. The people were arguing and complaining about many things, including Paul’s leadership. They complained that he hadn’t really seen Christ, nor had he been under Jesus’ day to day discipleship so he couldn’t have had authority to teach them. And surely, had he been an Apostle he would have taken advantage of the opportunities set before him, including the possibility of receiving financial support for his ministry and/or having had a wife travel with him. At least, this is what they had seen from the other apostles. So, if he didn’t act exactly like some of the others, surely he couldn’t have been for real and now his ministry was under scrutiny from those who didn’t want to accept his authority as a spiritual leader.
Paul argues that he has the right as an apostle to serve them in any way the Lord leads him. He is a free man, he is an apostle and he has seen Jesus on the Damascus road! Also, he had been there to found the work in Corinth and these people had come to the Lord through his ministry. Now, why were they questioning him? His heart was troubled as his ministry was questioned.
For those who serve it is always difficult when people begin to question your ministry. It is especially difficult when it is those whom you have led into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Sadly there are many wounded servants of the Lord around these days and they are wondering what they are to do when confronted in this way.
Paul’s confidence was in the call he had received from Jesus Christ. When our ministry is questioned we need to begin by searching our own hearts and the source of our calling. If it truly is from Christ then we can learn a lesson from Paul. Yes, his confidence was in Christ’s call, but he also would not allow the questions to keep him from ministry. Instead, he went out of his way to remove any potential barrier to his ministry. He even refused to accept financial support because, in his case, he thought it might become a stumbling block.
Paul’s response here is also a type of personal reflection and this is also appropriate when our ministry is questioned. He began to evaluate different aspects of his own ministry and whether he may have been out of step. There are times for this personal reflection and this means there must also be a willingness to say that we were wrong and take corrective action.
Yes, there will be times when your ministry will be questioned. It happens to most all ministers — and so, just like Paul, you must determine your response. And in the end we must remain faithful to the one who calls us.
Lord, thank you for your leading. Amen.