As I read this passage, one of the things that jumps off the page at me is Paul’s balance of trust in God’s sovereignty in his ministry, and his own personal faithfulness and tenacity in seeing his part of his ministry performed.
Paul was facing threats because of his message, but God ultimately comforted him in verses 9-10: “9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.'” (ESV) When God said that he had many people in the city who are his, it could have been easy for Paul to see his role in saving them go away. Instead, he stayed there for a year and a half, “teaching the word of God among them.”
When God declared that He was already at work in the lives of people, Paul dug his heels in and sought to minister to those that God was already ministering to. Not many of us have been told directly by God what he is doing in our context, but what if we operated under the assumption that God has many people in our schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, gyms, or other spheres of influence that are God’s? We need to learn from Paul, who trusted and understood God’s sovereignty and God’s role in salvation better than I do, and allow this aspect of God’s character to give us great confidence and passion to share the Gospel with those who are in our communities.
Who in your spheres of influence could already be “God’s”? What do you need to change in order to reflect Paul’s heart for these people?
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice