Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was considered by many to be the most powerful and effective preacher ever heard on the American continent. His sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” led many to trust in Christ alone for eternal life. Yet he was not without critics. “Oliver Wendell Holmes described his sermons as ‘barbaric.’ Mark Twain called him ‘a drunken lunatic.’” But whether praised or criticized, Edwards continued preaching God’s Word undeterred.
The ministry of John the Baptist was both accepted and rejected. The common people of his day widely accepted him as a man of God. Many from Jerusalem, Judea, and Jordan went out to him to be baptized (Matthew 3:5). Herod was deterred from putting John to death because “he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet” (Matthew 14:5). Yet the religious leaders of Israel, jealous of his popularity, did not accept his ministry. The Savior exposed their attitudes, saying, “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, he hath a devil” (Matthew 11:18). With no true accusation to level against John the Baptist, they manufactured a smear campaign to oppose him. Herod had John the Baptist beheaded after John rebuked him for having his brother’s wife. Yet, he was so fearful of John, he believed God’s servant had “risen from the dead” and he associated “mighty works” with John (Matthew 14:1-2).
As John the Baptist was not primarily concerned about whether or not mere men accepted his ministry, neither should we be concerned whether or not mere mortals accept our ministry. Like the Apostle Paul, we should strive to say, “…With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self…but He that judgeth me is the Lord” (I Corinthians 4:3-4). If we allow ourselves to be concerned about the opinions of others regarding our ministry for the Lord, their negativity may well intimidate us into silence. For the sake of lost souls who need to hear us share the gospel, for the cause of Christ, and because the need is great, we must boldly continue undeterred in ministry regardless of whether others accept or approve of our sharing truth from God’s Word. Today, seek only to “be found faithful” to the Lord (I Corinthians 4:2) by sharing the gospel with a lost soul and a truth from God’s Word with another believer.
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