Sometimes in his letters, Paul seems so strong and confident, so full of faith, that he appears to be a spiritual superhero. But Paul was as human as you and I. Cut him, and he bleeds. Slander him, and he feels the wound. Criticism and opposition always hurt. Yes, we can reach a stage of spiritual maturity where we are better able to manage our pain and forgive an injury, but only a person with ice water in his veins could say that criticism doesn’t hurt.

Paul looked to the example of Jesus. He was comforted in knowing that his Lord and Savior, his role model, was constantly criticized and attacked. The Lord’s enemies called Him a glutton, a drunkard, a lawbreaker, a blasphemer, a seditionist, and a demon-possessed madman. Evil always tries to portray good as evil and evil as good. Evil men always try to create confusion and divert attention from their wickedness.

One way evil people try to confuse the issue is by claiming that those who stand for Biblical morality, for God’s Truth, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are guilty of that most vile of all sins, the sin of intolerance! If a Christian supports God’s model for Christian marriage and the Christian family—one man and one woman raising children in the nurture of the Lord—that Christian will be labeled a bigot and be accused of intolerance. By supporting what is godly and good, a Christian will be demonized as a hater.

When Paul responds to criticism and opposition, he does not give in to anger or self-justification. His response is focused entirely on defending the Gospel itself. He reminds the Thessalonians of his love for them. He wants them to know that the Gospel he preached to them was delivered in love, not out of any selfish motive. If Paul’s motives had been tainted, the Gospel he preached might have been tainted as well. Paul wanted the Thessalonians to know that the Gospel they received from him was pure and trustworthy.

When you are criticized for your faith in God’s Word, for your trust in Jesus Christ, for your belief in the Gospel, look to Jesus. Remember His love and compassion and also His unwavering commitment to the will of the Father.

Prayer: God, help me to trust in You when I am criticized and maligned for my faith. May I remember the grace I have received and respond with compassion, standing firm. May I trust in Your perfect justice. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45a).

*Excerpt adapted from Fearless Living in Troubled Times by Michael Youssef © 2017. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon series Until Christ Returns: Living Confidently in Turbulent Times: LISTEN NOW | WATCH NOW

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About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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