Paul is often referred to as a “model” servant minister, pastor, evangelist and teacher; and so he was. We may forget the conditions in which he often worked were much less than friendly. Even leaders within the church said some cruel things about this amazing apostle (2 Corinthians 11:26).
One of the hallmarks of Paul was his laser focus on the pure gospel of grace and the truth that was part of the foundation. As we look at his visits and the letters he wrote to churches and individuals, we see the ‘real man’ behind his titles. “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?” (12:15). It did not matter how they responded to His labors and love.
What was behind this attitude? Why would anyone keep accepting abuse, verbal and physical, first from his own people, the Jews (Acts 21), and then rebuffed from church leaders? This was part of sharing in the sufferings of Christ (Philippians 3:10). These sufferings were not for having a martyr spirit, but from knowing that being faithful to the gospel message and the Church requires suffering. There is one more aspect of this we cannot leave out; maturity of believers.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). Never forget these two principles; truth must be spoken in love for the persons we address, and we must desire and work for their spiritual growth.
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