"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" -Galatians 4:16
Young preachers are often surprised to learn that not everyone who claims to be a Christian wants to hear exactly what God says. These young men study and preach their hearts out, only to find that there is a negative reaction to their message. This negative reaction isn't confined to just the young preachers.
Pastors often get the blame for things they never did. Pastors are often blamed for wicked motivations in their preaching when it is the Holy Ghost that led them to preach on a certain topic or mention a particular thing that hits home with some who are not what they ought to be with the Lord. Pastors are often blamed for letting the family down when the parents refused to be faithful to God's house or to live at home what was preached from the pulpit.
On the other hand, pastors are also blamed for people's negative responses to the things that they do! This verse falls into this category.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches of the region of Galatia to correct the doctrinal error that had infiltrated their churches after his initial departure. This doctrinal error is still in existence in our world today, and expresses itself in two ways: 1) those who claim that something must be added to the completed work of Christ to obtain salvation, and 2) those who claim that something must be added to the completed work of Christ to maintain salvation. Both of these ideologies are wrong, but they cover most of what calls itself "Christian" today.
Paul, as was his way, was direct and to the point. He did not pull any punches. On the other hand, Paul was not unloving toward these believers who made up the membership of the churches of Galatia. He systematically proves that there are false "gospels" and false "brethren." He goes on to reiterate the truth that the Gospel is received by faith, rather than by any sort of works.
Paul also knew people. He knew them generally, according to their culture or sect. But, he also knew these believers from Galatia individually and personally. He knew what would be the reaction of those who had been persuaded of the correctness of these Judaizers (those who taught that the Law was a required addition to Christ's finished work to either obtain or maintain salvation). They would immediately react to Paul's epistle by framing him as an enemy of the people. But, it was this same Paul who had initially brought the truth of the Gospel to these people. The Judaizers had not put in an appearance when these people were lost. They only showed up after the fact, to divert these converts from the truth! It was Paul who had laboured, prayed, and wept over their lost condition until they had come to Christ as their only hope of salvation! Yet, it was this very Paul that was being cast as the bad guy!
Paul knew that this would be the response of some, and he addressed them by asking if he had become their enemy. Certainly, he had become the enemy of these Judaizers, because he was questioning their salvation; he was questioning their doctrine; he was questioning their truthfulness. Honestly, Paul should have been questioning all of these things, and so should the believers of Galatia.
Paul then revealed the only reason why these Judaizers would set Paul up as an enemy of the people: because he had told them the truth. The truth would expose the error of the Judaizer. The truth would open the eyes of the yielded believer, and cause him to run from the error being taught by these questionable men. The truth would set these believers free from the bandage into which these Judaizers sought to place them!
This brings us back to where we began. Many make out the Pastor to be an enemy of the people of his church or his community because what he teaches and preaches does not align with how they live and what they think to be true. However, if that Pastor is preaching the Word of God as it is to people as they are, we must realize that he is doing nothing more than telling them the truth!
If you have a Pastor who faithfully tells you the truth from the Word of God, you should never make him your enemy. He is trying to help you! He is trying to open your eyes to a greater truth that you are not seeing! He is often trying to warn you to avoid an error that will harm you, your family, and your church!
Instead of making an enemy of your Pastor, you ought to thank God for the Pastor that He has given to you and your church! You ought to let your Pastor know that you are thankful for him and for his faithfulness to tell you the truth. You ought to encourage your Pastor to continue to tell you the truth, even though you may not agree with him.
If you have been guilty of making an enemy of your Pastor, you ought to go to him and ask his forgiveness for your wrongdoing. Do not excuse yourself by saying, "He knows that comes with the job." The hurt that he and his family feel when you make him an enemy can be overwhelming, and a sincere, humble apology will go a long way toward healing the hurt you have caused. Do not excuse yourself by saying, "But that happened years ago." The hurt you cause can linger on for many years, even causing discouragement and a desire to quit.
Yes, preachers and pastors realize that not everyone will enjoy their preaching, especially when it opposes their "pet" doctrine or ungodly lifestyle. However, the faithful man of God will continue to tell the truth from the Word of God, even if everyone makes him their enemy!