“And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:6, AV)
It has been rare but, on occasion, I have had some mildly hostile encounters in evangelism. They were not anything that was physical. However, they were verbally challenging. On one occasion, someone slammed a door in my face. Another person shot back with a verbal barrage. Yes, these were the extreme and very few. Most of the rejections came in the tone of, “No, I’m good,” “I don’t need that,” or “I know what I believe.” If we are serious about evangelism, at some point we will have people who are not interested. The question is, “How do we respond to a person who rejects the gospel with a degree of hostility?”
Here we find that Paul had been presenting Jesus as the Messiah of Israel in the Synagogue in Corinth. You might have thought he would have received an acceptance by the Jews. However, they oppose and revile him for his message. Paul’s actions give us three principles that show us how to respond in similar situations.
First, he lets them know that they have made their choice. “Your blood be on your own heads.” Ultimately, people will stand at the judgment based upon the actions that they have chosen in life. The Scriptures state that the Lord will judge “the dead” “according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:12). They further state that only those whose names are in the “book of life” will escape the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Therefore, we need to realize that we cannot change the will of man, only God can do this. We cannot make a person believe, no matter how hard we try. We can only sow the seed and trust God to do the work. However, you can, like Paul did, tell them that on the day of judgment they will stand on their own decision regarding trusting in Jesus, and to reject Jesus is a choice they will regret.
Second, Paul is satisfied that he has fulfilled his calling in his effort to preach the gospel. He states, “I am innocent.” He did his part. The eternal destiny of those people was not his responsibility. His responsibility was to be a faithful steward of God’s grace, to preach, sowing the seed of the gospel. Therefore, when people reject our message, we must remember that we did our part and their demise for rejecting the gospel is not on our heads. It is on theirs.
Last, Paul did not give up preaching. He merely moved on to someone else. In this case, he moves on to the Gentiles. As we look at his work in Corinth, we see that many of the Corinthians believe and are baptized (v8). Sometimes we will find the soil so hard that we just are unable to sow the seed. In these cases, we must realize that the problem is with the soil and not the seed or the one sowing. Like Paul, we do not quit sowing we must find other soil. Remember that Jesus Himself stated that some seed would land on the path where the birds would pick it up, yet other seed would land on the good soil and produce a fruitful crop (Matthew 13:4-9). Therefore, keep on sharing the gospel message for you will cast some seed on good soil if you do not quit (see Galatians 6:9).