“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Every minister of God must overcome discouragement. Discouragement says, “Why bother? Your efforts are of no use.” To take our cue from the response we receive is to become mired in discouragement. The Lord knew what Jeremiah would be up against in attempting to minister to an unreceptive audience. He told him: “Be not afraid of their faces …” (Jeremiah 1:8)
There is a time to wipe the dust off our feet. But the anticipation that our witness will be spurned is not reason in itself to be silent. God charges those who will speak for Him to not allow the “ground” to dictate their “sowing.” Many times we must even cast our bread upon the waters. (Eccl. 11:1) “Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters …” (Isa. 32:20)
The only thing that must matter to us is fulfilling the Lord’s commission. If He sends us, we go. If He commands us to speak, we open our mouth. “For thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” (Jer. 1:7) In the most daunting of circumstances, to the hardest of people, God calls us to stand and speak for Him:
“And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious.” (Ezekiel 2:6,7)
God’s prophets were men with emotions just like us. They didn’t like being despised and rejected. They wanted people to receive their ministry and be blessed. But even more than outward success, they wanted to be faithful to the God who sent them. He told them not to become so discouraged by the response of people that they became rebellious themselves. Their obedience was to be found in overcoming discouragement.
“Why bother” when ministry seems to be bearing no fruit? “What’s the use” of laboring where no reward is found? The answer today is the same answer that the servants of old had to embrace: I would finish my course with joy. My reward and my crown is laid up for me above. My labor may be to men, but it is for God. No matter how fruitless it may appear, it is never in vain.