It’s hard to see people we love and care about reject the gospel message. But eventually there comes a time when we simply have to move on and leave them to God. When does that point come? I think we find the answer in this passage.
As usual, Paul was preaching about Jesus in the synagogue while in Ephesus. He did so for about three months, but at the end of that time, the people there were “obstinate,” “refused to believe,” and worse, went out of their way to “publicly malign the Way.” (9)
Paul’s response? He moved on to preach to others who would listen.
Sometimes, when we preach the gospel, we get the sense they are open to hearing more. And as long as they are, we should keep sharing with them. But if we sense they are instead hardening their hearts, or worse, becoming hostile to the gospel, then it’s time to leave them in the hands of God, and move on. To keep pushing the gospel on them not only does no good, it can become counterproductive. We cannot make people believe. Only the Holy Spirit can.
As Paul wrote, we can plant the seed of the gospel, we can water it, but only God can make it grow. (I Corinthians 3:6-7)
So when people are rejecting what we have to say, let us step aside so that He, who alone can change the human heart, can do his work.