In reading this passage, it seems pretty clear that there were some people who were upset with Paul. They were complaining about him and the way he did things. Apparently they wondered if his way of doing things was “of the Lord”.
It’s also seems clear that Paul is hurt by this. When you come right down to it, this is a pretty strong response. Hey didn’t just blow off the criticisms and sad, “No big deal. Some people are always unhappy.”
And my guess is that anyone who has taken a step out in public ministry can relate to this. Whether it’s the Youth Group, Music Ministry, Sunday School, teaching, leadership—whatever—more often than not there is going to be somebody who is unhappy with how you are doing things. And it will hurt.
I think two things. First, Paul was clear that what he was doing was indeed of the Lord. He knew he was being faithful. So he didn’t stop what he was doing or how he was doing it. Though it is valuable to receive input and feedback, we answer first to God.
Second, have we as a church learned anything since Paul’s day? People have been following Jesus for centuries now. Have we gotten any better at it? Can we be those who learn to appreciate people who step out in ministry, to see what God is doing through them rather than being threatened by it or thinking about what we would do differently? Can we send them a note of encouragement rather than finding someone else who will share our complaint?
Can we learn to appreciate one another, care for one another, love one another—like Christ loved us?