We do not give anyone an occasion for taking in offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. But as God's servants, we have commended ourselves in every way,with great endurance, in persecutions, and difficulties, into stresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, and sleepless nights, [and] in hunger. 2 Corinthians 6:3 (NET)
While very few of us find ourselves presently beaten or imprisoned for our faith, many of us can relate to difficulties, distresses, troubles, and sleepless nights. Many Christians find their lives are full of the things in the above list. Difficulties with family members or co-workers, conflicts in daily life that tax us and stress us to the point we wonder if we will be able to handle them much longer. We often have trouble on many fronts.
There are women who suffering daily because of their faith in Jesus. Married to men who are not Christians, they live with ridicule and persecution. They are mocked and even threatened when they want to attend church or a Bible study.
As the world grows colder and more hostile to the Gospel, many Christians realize they are alone and set apart from literally everyone around them. They are sometimes ridiculed and denied advancement on the job, and they are often made fun of within their own families.We desire to make Christ known among the very people who trouble and persecute us, and it often breaks our hearts when the gospel of Jesus Christ falls on deaf ears and hard
How can we avoid discouragement? One way is to be ever mindful of the sovereignty of God in election. There is true comfort in knowing that we are not responsible for anyone's salvation. It is a great comfort to know that God asks us to sow the seed and water the soil but to trust Him for the harvest that is the increase in souls.
Another is to consider and take seriously what Paul says, "We do not give anyone an occasion for taking in offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry." I'd like to ask you to take a moment and examine yourself and your life in light of that verse. Go ahead, I'll wait!
It is more true than not that people learn about our faith by how they see us living than by the words we use to tell them about Jesus. They observe our lives, watch if and how we live what we preach and then decide if they are interested or not. A woman who dutifully reads her Bible on her lunch break at work but is a nasty gossip around the office is going to be viewed as a hypocrite. A wife who is constantly spouting Bible verses to her husband, but is disrespectful and nagging is a poor representative of Jesus Christ. And, someone who attends everything the church offers but has a filthy mouth or participates in unwholesome things of the world has no credibility with unsaved people.
We have been called to be different, called out from the world, set apart for righteousness and holiness (Romans 12:1-2). We do live in this sin-cursed world, but we are no longer of or a part of this world (John 15:19; 17:14). We must live as though this is true. Our ministry to the unsaved people in our circles of influence must be marked by genuineness, transparency, honesty, integrity, upright living, and outstanding character. There can be no hedging on these principles, because our words and our character will speak much louder than lugging our Bible's around and waving tracts under their noses. Make it your goal to be able to honestly say, "I gave them no reason to find fault with my ministry" when interacting with unbelievers.