. . . because a wide door for effective ministry has opened for me—yet many oppose me.—1 Corinthians 16:9
Open doors of service may also let in adversaries. Paul had many of both. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus, he was trying to determine where to go next. He chose to remain longer in Ephesus because of the open doors of service God granted him. Knowing that God had opened the doors of ministry, Paul was not going to leave, regardless of how many enemies he faced. We might assume that Paul would reach the opposite conclusion. In light of the opposition he faced, he could have concluded that it was best to serve in less hostile regions. Instead, Paul based his decisions on God’s activity rather than on what people were doing.
As you respond to God’s invitations, don’t be caught by surprise when adversaries try to thwart what you are doing. If you concentrate on your opponents, you will be sidetracked from God’s activity. Don’t base your decisions on what people are doing. They cannot prevent you from carrying out God’s will (Rom. 8:31). Many times the most rewarding spiritual work is done in the crucible of persecution and opposition. While Paul was in Ephesus, a riot broke out in reaction to his ministry. The city theater resounded with an angry mob who shouted for two hours in support of their god, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:23–41). Despite this fierce rejection of the gospel, Ephesus became one of the chief cities from which the gospel spread throughout Asia.
It takes spiritual discernment to see beyond human activity to God’s will. As you seek places of service, look beyond what people are saying to find what God is doing.