The Obstacle of Conflict
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. —2 Timothy 4:14-16
The apostle Paul was no stranger to conflict. It came looking for him almost everywhere he went! He persevered in the face of human resistance. And he didn’t let conflict derail his development of endurance. In his second letter to Timothy, he gave his son in the faith a father’s heads up.
Notice it says, “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm” (v.14). In the waning days of his life, Paul was thinking about this guy. We don’t know which Alexander this is. I Timothy 1:20 talks about a particular Alexander whom Paul had turned over to Satan so that he might learn not to blaspheme. Here he mentions “Alexander the coppersmith.” So maybe it’s a different guy; we don’t know. But he sure had hurt Paul in his ministry. Yet notice Paul’s not taking matters into his own hands: “The Lord will repay him according to his deeds” (v.14).
In the life of every person who commits themselves wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ, people will step up and step in to oppose you. There will be conflict. Jesus said in Luke 6:26a, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you.”If you’re standing for Christ, but it’s not producing any opposition, hardship, or struggle, then you need to check and see if you are really standing. Maybe you’re actually retreating. Paul knew what this was all about. Because of his commitment to persevere, conflict had come into his life. But he was leaving it with God.
Paul continued, “Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message”(v.15). We’ve learned over the years with people who set themselves in opposition to biblical ministry, that almost without exception when you stand up to them, they leave the church and do the very same thing somewhere else. Paul was saying, “Don’t let that happen to you. Watch your back.”
If you are experiencing conflict because of your commitment to persevere, take heart. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven(Luke 6:22-23).
· How has opposition clarified and deepened my commitment to Jesus Christ?
Father in heaven, guide me to know the difference between living for You despite opposition and being an obnoxious person who provokes resistance. Help me to grow in Your character so that others are drawn to You even while those who reject You reject me, too. Help me not to deliberately antagonize others but to stand firmly for Your truth, for Your Word, and for the Gospel, no matter where the chips fall. In Jesus’ name, Amen.