Pardon me while I think out loud for a moment. There is something from Acts that has me thinking but I am not sure of the answer. Is there ever a time to move away from unproductive ministry? The reason I am asking myself this is not because of my current situation but because of my character. I am stubborn. Some may call it determined but my mom calls it stubborn. Sometimes I wonder if I am too stubborn and stupid to quit, even ignoring the Spirit in order to "stick to it".
The portion of Scripture that provoked this thought is found in Acts 18. Paul was in Corinth waiting for his team to catch up. It says that every Sabbath he would go to the synagogue and try to convince the Jews about Jesus. When his team arrived, he set aside his work and went at the ministry full time. The results weren't great. Scripture says they opposed and slandered him. After a lengthy period of ministry Paul shook the dust from his clothes and stated:
"You are responsible for your own fates! I'm innocent! From now on I'll go to the Gentiles!" (Acts 18:6)
Were the hard hearts Jesus' way of getting Paul to step into his calling to the Gentiles? At the end of the chapter we read about Apollos successfully debating with these same Jews, so was Paul in the way of successful ministry? But here's the thing. When Paul made this decision to shake off the dust, he started meeting with success, or I should say, the Spirit started to produce a harvest through him:
Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household came to believe in the Lord. Many Corinthians believed and were baptized after listening to Paul. (Acts 18:8)
So is it possible that our "determination" could be blocking a harvest where we are at and missing a harvest where we are suppose to be? I already think there is too much self-direction and self-determination in the Church and not enough sensitivity to the Spirit. I find we are too busy pursing wrong stuff to foster and live within a sensitivity to the presence of the Lord, so like Cain, we bring the offering of service we are interested in and expect it to please the Lord. But he is looking for obedience. Already knowing this I now wonder if my "determination" is contributing to the problem.
An interesting question to meditate on today.