Ask God to help you respond to conflict with Christ’s love, kindness, and wisdom.
It is clear from today’s passage that Paul was no stranger to conflict—even conflict caused by members of the church. Some people were upset that he preached to the Gentiles rather than exclusively to Jews. They also didn’t like the fact that he taught salvation by grace and not law. And some people were teaching the message with a very different motivation from the apostle’s.
Notice how Paul responded: He was positive. The tenor of his letter is one of encouragement and resolve. He did not lash out at his critics; he did not defend himself. He defended the gospel, but he did so in love and without harshness. Paul was happy that the name and good news of Jesus Christ were being preached, regardless of whether the motive was sincerity or envy. He was so concerned for the souls of others that he responded out of selflessness rather than selfishness.
What’s amazing is that Paul wrote this encouraging letter during his confinement in a Roman jail, and the prison guards learned about the gospel from him. Your words and behavior can likewise reflect Christ to unbelievers you encounter. May God help you stay the course as Paul did—even when your situation may involve controversy and criticism.