I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Zambia driving down a dirt road with one of my missionary partners and another Zambian believer. We were on our way to scout out a new village where the gospel had never been preached. We wanted to see if we could discover where God was already at work among the peoples of this small fishing community. This little village sat on the edge of a huge lake and would make a perfect launching point for villages all along the shore of that lake. It was a very important trip. On the truck ride there I was working on some of my scripture memory verses. My missionary partner saw my note card and asked me what verse I was chewing on. I told him it was 2 Corinthians 6:3. “We give no offense in anything that the ministry may not be blamed.”
This is one of the many passages in which Paul makes plain that he did all he could to not put an obstacle in front of someone that might prevent them giving the gospel a fair hearing. Even if it meant surrendering some of his rights he was ready to give those rights up for the sake of the gospel.
When we reached the town we found that the people were divided in their opinion of us. Some received us warmly and heartily invited us to come back. Others thought that, because of some misconceptions of Baptists, that we might be demon worshippers. Well, as we moved through the village one of the fishermen asked if he could take us on a tour of the lake for a small fee. We agreed and took the tour, which was pretty much uneventful except for seeing a few hippos. When we finished the tour I reached in my pocket to pay the man. As soon as I gave the man the money my partner said, “Wait David, I already paid the guy.” When I asked for my money back the man refused to give it back. In other words he ripped us off! I started to get mad and demand my money back when my partner looked at me and said, “What was that verse you were memorizing earlier?” Immediately God smote my heart.
As soon as he said it I gave up my attempts to get my money back (a measly $4). I am glad to say that that village now has a strong church in it that is reaching out to others. My partner was able to return and plant a church there. Up until a few months ago he and his family were there making sure that it grew. They have now left it in the hands of godly and capable Zambian church leaders. I have often wondered what would have happened if I would have insisted on having my four bucks back. It could have meant that the hearts of those people would have closed for good. I don’t know. All I know is this. God wants us to be willing to give up our rights if it means that people will be more open to hearing of His Son. Are you still clinging to any “rights”?