“What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).
The greatness of Paul the apostle was revealed not only by his powerful evangelistic and teaching ministry, but also by his gracious response to those Christian colleagues who were critical or demeaning about his ministry. While he took an uncompromising stand against any who preached false doctrine, he always ignored personal criticism of himself or his ministry, as long as his critics continued to teach the truth about Christ and God’s revelation. This is the high road that we ought also to take. “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife,” he noted (v.15) . . . “supposing to add affliction to my bonds” (v.16). Nevertheless, he refused to answer back, if they were preaching Christ.
In this attitude, he was simply following the example of Christ Himself, “Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; . . . but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (I Peter 2:23).
When churches split, or when an individual leaves a Christian ministry to establish another ministry-assuming the reasons are personal or organizational rather than doctrinal or moral-it should be an occasion of rejoicing over the increased outreach of the message, rather than one of recrimination. This is easier said than done, of course, for individual egos often intrude, and it helps to remember and seek to follow the examples of Paul and the Lord Jesus.
The same counsel would apply when we receive criticism, or even persecution, from unbelievers because of our Christian witness, “For . . . if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (I Peter 2:20). And that’s what really counts, so praise the Lord anyhow! HMM