St Paul was one the most eloquent preacher and missionary to the Gentiles of his time. He was transformed from Saul to Paul while on the way to Damascus to punish the followers of the Way - followers of Christ – as they were called at the time. I am sure I have written about this great missionary in the Barnabas in our lives. As a man of God, Paul was concerned with the task of preaching the Gospel. But every now and then, his humanity raised its ugly head, like it does in the rest of us, who are struggling to live the life of a Christian. I am always fascinated by some of the writings of Paul and how he was able to address every situation that presented itself to him. I sometimes think that Paul was not a very patient man. I also believe that he barley tolerated a lot of people. Recall his reaction when Barnabas wanted to take John Mark along in their second missionary journey? He would not hear of it that John Mark who had deserted them should be invited again to join the duo in the next trip. Now during his many trips he encountered a lot of people and was faced with many difficult circumstances. His reactions were determined by those situations.
In this post, I want to consider the man named Alexander who was a coppersmith. In his second letter to Timothy chapter four verse fourteen, Paul complains bitterly about a lot of people and what they did to him. One of those people was our dear Alexander. Listen to what Paul said about him: “Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” He went ahead to warn Timothy in the next verse, “You too be on guard against him, for he has strongly resisted our preaching.” This man must hurt Paul so badly that he had previously warned Timothy in his first letter to Timothy, chapter two verse twenty; “Some by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” To understand the full story of what poor Alexander has done, you need to revisit the Acts of the Apostles chapter 19:23-40. But funny enough in this chapter Paul did not so much as answer Alexander and his fellow coppersmiths. You see, the coppersmiths were threatened that with Paul’s preaching many of the adherents of Artemis were deserting them and soon they would no longer be patronized. Because of this, they initiated a riot and chaos in the city. This made it difficult for Paul to preach the Gospel of Christ in Ephesus.
We have many of the Alexander the coppersmith and many other coppersmiths in our lives and in our places of work. They will do everything to contradict everything good that we stand for just to keep their territories protected. It does matter to them whether this be for the common good or not. Their one concern is their selfish end. They will not only contradict the good that we try to do, they will also struggle to get other good people on their side, to their camp, so that we may not succeed in doing good. The problem with them is that they will take the last breathe from you before they allow you to do anything. Many of them are like the dog at the manger, they will not go in themselves and they will prevent anyone from going in. Who can deliver us from Alexander the coppersmiths of this world? Many of them are your friends. You share your secret with them, but they, who promised you that your secret was save with them, went behind your back and divulged it to others. They make life difficult for you and with you. They make it difficult for you to trust anyone and anybody. What life lesson can we find that will assist us in dealing with them?
I guess the one lesson I can think of is that we have to be as cunning as a serpent and as wise as a dove when dealing with them. This lesson, incidentally, comes from Christ himself. We have to be tactical in dealing with them. Do not share with them anything you would not want another person to know about. Spend your time with those who are positive. Listen to them and take only the positive criticism that you know will assist you in your work. Do not waste you energy on them, it will only drain your spirit, which is exactly what they want to happen to you. Be happy all the time but, most of all, keep on loving them. Most of them do not love themselves, they love no one and you may be one of the objects of their anger. Do not grow weary in doing what is right and God will take care of you and deliver you from the hands of the many Alexander the coppersmiths in your life.