A LETTER OF ENCOURAGEMENT
* Are you a Christian whose family thinks you are a nut now that you have given your life to Christ? Do those who have known you the longest treat you differently and tell you how much you've changed? (And from the way that they say it, you know that they don't really care for the new you.)
Do your friends and relatives get upset with you because you do not want to participate in certain activities anymore or hang out at places you once frequented?
And when you try to share your faith with your loved ones, do their eyes glaze over? Do you sense their irritation and disinterest if you even so much as mention Christ's name? Do they refer to you with terms such as "holier than thou" or tell you that you are judgmental and harsh?
* Are you a Sunday school teacher who wonders if you are getting through to any of your students? Do you labor to put together a Bible study lesson and then spend half of the class time just trying to keep some semblance of order in the class?
Or are you a Christian webmaster who is sometimes worn down by the e-mail that you receive? Are you having trouble distinguishing the letters sent by those who are unsaved from those who are so-called Christians because both groups belittle and berate God's truths that you are trying to share?
Or maybe you are someone who tries to witness to others by street preaching or passing out tracts, and you have those days where you just want to throw up your hands and give up -- you feel as though you are fighting a losing battle.
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Well, if you are a soldier in God's army who is out in the world trying to be used by God, I wanted to let you know that no matter what opposition you face, no matter who thinks you are crazy, no matter how many people reject you or what you are trying to share with them, your work is not in vain! How do I know? Because the Bible tells us so.
One verse that I have found that every soldier should memorize is this: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Did you see that? Your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Even though you may not see immediate results (or any results), God sees what you are doing. And God's word tells us that any labor that we do for Him is never in vain. Do not be discouraged by the words or actions or inactions of man. Your service is to God above all else.
Here is another verse: "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Hebrews 6:10).
If no one else appreciates you, God does. If no one seems to understand, God does.
And the Bible tells us that God's word does not return void. Isaiah 55:10-11 reads, "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth an bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing wherto I sent it."
Our words cannot do a thing, but God's word is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). So if you have been using God's word in your witnessing, your labor has not been in vain.
Even if you never see even one person's life transformed in your lifetime, do not let that discourage you. We are to be used. We plant seeds. Maybe another laborer will see the fruit come to harvest as a person's life is transformed and they come to Christ. Think of the people you know or strangers who touched your life by either a word or a Christian tract. Did all of those people get to personally see you become born again?
I personally believe that when we get to heaven, it is only then that we will truly know the impact of our labour for God. I believe that we will then see how we played a role in a person coming to ask Christ to be their Savior and Lord. Glory to God that He gives us the privilege to be used at all in such a wonderful way. So as we work, let us remember Galatians 6:9, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
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And as far as your friends or family members who you may now feel estranged with, on that topic an old gospel spiritual comes to mind. One verse is, "Friends don't treat me like they used to since I laid my burdens down..."
My brothers and sisters in Christ, expect some people to no longer like you or understand you. Jesus said these words, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Matthew 10:34-36) and "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake" (Matthew 10:22).
This wicked world loves the darkness. If you are no longer walking in darkness, people will begin to despise you. And some of those people who will be hating you will be your family members or friends. As a matter of fact, if you are still blending in with everybody everywhere and you are not making certain people a bit uncomfortable, I would venture to say that it is then that you should be alarmed.
But the good news is that God will never turn His back on you. "When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up" (Psalm 27:10). You have been adopted into the Lord's family. Whatever you have lost cannot compare to what God has to offer. And "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)
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And, as you continue on in the Lord's work, know that Satan and his devils are going to try to stop you: Moles will show up in your Bible study class to try to frustrate the work you are doing. Your computer is going to crash and your Christian study lessons that you have toiled over will disappear. Your boss is going to try to get you to put in some overtime hours on the very night that you planned on visiting the shut-ins.
Evil forces are going to come your way at some time or another in many different manifestations. Satan does not want even one person to be saved, and he pulls out all the stops to try to keep God's word from going forth. Don't see these things as negatives. See this as proof that you are doing something important and worthwhile for God's kingdom.
And think of all of the people who came before you. Joseph's own brothers sold him into slavery. Daniel was thrown into the lion's den. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were thrown into the fiery furnace. Abraham could not find even ten righteous men who would listen and act on his warning. The group that Moses led rebelled time and time again even after experiencing God's awesome presence daily. The Israelites complained in Moses' ears and wanted to get rid of him on numerous occasions. The different apostles were jailed, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and murdered. The prophets were hated. And, of course, Jesus himself was betrayed, falsely accused, and crucified.
God never said that following Him would be easy. In Romans 8:35-37, it reads, "What shall we then say to these things? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
So, again, know that if you are doing the Lord's work, you will face opposition, and you may be misunderstood. But bear in mind that there is nothing more important or more lasting than what we have been commissioned to do.
And keep in mind that you are never alone, nor do you ever have to be afraid. "Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" (Deuteronomy 31:6).
So in closing, I will remind you of Jesus' words to His followers: "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
Go get 'em, soldiers!
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Additional verses for encouragement:
Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 56:11, Psalm 27:1, 3 (fear not). 1 Peter 4:12-13 (fiery trial). Joel 3:10 (get ready for battle). Matthew 5:14-16 (let your light shine). 1 Peter 2:21 (follow Christ's example). Psalm 138:7, Isaiah 40:31 (revived by God). Galatians 6:9 (weary).