Satan wants to render you ineffective for Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 16:9 Paul says, “A wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” That’s typical of spiritual warfare. The more opportunities you have to serve Christ, the more adversaries you’ll face. That’s because Satan seeks to hinder your spiritual service.
Often seminary students ask me if ministry becomes easier over the years. In one sense it does because you learn better study skills, time management, and the like. But in a greater sense it becomes more difficult because as you labor in the Word, contend for souls, and struggle against your own weaknesses, Satan opposes you at every turn.
You can sense something of the difficulty of ministry in Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: “Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thess. 2:8-9). To the Ephesian elders he said, “Be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears” (Acts 20:31).
Every sphere of ministry is important—whether you’re a pastor, homemaker, factory worker, or student. Consequently, every ministry encounters opposition as Satan attempts to cause friction and discouragement within families, churches, and work places. Thus, believers must be humble and gentle toward one another, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). When we do that, the Body of Christ is strengthened and Satan can’t gain a foothold.
Ministry is hard work and the obstacles are great, but the victories are even greater. So be faithful, knowing that God will reward you richly.
Suggestions for Prayer
• Thank God for the privilege of serving Him—even during the hard times.
• Thank Him for the encouragement you receive from His Spirit, His Word, and your fellow believers.
For Further Study
According to Romans 8:18, what was Paul’s perspective on difficulties?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187