I think one thing that a lot of people worry about as we share the gospel is how people will respond.
It’s only natural, I suppose. For one thing, we really want them to be saved. For another, we want people to like us.
But while the first desire is important, the latter is entirely secondary. More, it should never interfere with our proclaiming with the gospel.
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. (1)
When he says, “we do not lose heart,” I think one thing he means is that he doesn’t allow himself to be discouraged when people reject the gospel message.
It can be disheartening when that happens. It’s even more disheartening when people reject us because of the gospel.
But Paul declares,
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (2)
In other words, “In declaring the gospel, everything we do is aboveboard. We’re not trying to trick or deceive anyone.
“Nor,” Paul says, “Do we distort the word of God.”
That word “distort” is very interesting. It’s the same word wine merchants used for diluting their goods. Put another way then, Paul is saying, “We refuse to dilute the word of God. We refuse to water it down to make it more palatable for those who hear. Instead, we simply lay down the truth plainly as it is.”
In our day and age, it can be tempting to water down the word of God so that people can accept it and us. But for Paul, it was unacceptable to do this. Instead, he just laid the gospel before people and said, “Here it is. Now what will you do with it?”
And God calls us to do the same. It’s not our responsibility to make people believe. Our responsibility is to tell it like it is.
Paul tells us,
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (3-4)
What Paul is saying is, “If we declare the gospel as we should, and people still can’t see the truth, we shouldn’t be blaming ourselves. Satan himself has blinded their eyes.”
So what should we do then? Put it in the hands of God. Paul writes,
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (6)
Just as God was the only one who could bring light into the darkness at the creation of the world, he is the only one who can bring light into the darkness of the human heart. So if someone rejects the gospel, pray for them. That’s our part. The rest is up to God.
So let us never dilute the gospel of Christ to make it more palatable to others. Let us tell it like it is and pray for them. Then let God do his part as he works in their hearts. And ultimately, we will see fruit.