There is a large scar on my left knee which I got almost 70 years ago from falling on a broken bottle. The wound has long since healed, but the scar remains. Everyone who goes through life seems to get scars on their bodies. Every Christian, especially those who pastor or lead other Christians get scars, too – but these are on their souls. One can’t be in the battle for men’s souls without being attacked by the enemy and other people. Paul had scars: “I bear on my body the scars of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17). His body was beaten several times for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). But he also had scars on his soul – marks left from pain he experienced as a minister for Jesus.
Some of our scars come from sharing pain with the people we serve. As a pastor, I hurt when the people I love hurt. When a baby dies, a teenager rebels, a mate leaves, the doctor delivers bad news, a friend loses a job or any life altering event brings pain to others, I hurt as well. We share our people’s pain, and while the pain fades and life goes on, we still bear the scars in the way of painful memories and tearful experiences.
Unbelievers who criticize, persecute and oppose us can cause pain and leave scars. Some of the worst scars I bear were put there by other Christians, one-time friends whose wounds cut deeper because of the close relationship we once shared (Zechariah 13:6). I’m sure we have all been hurt, sometimes deeply, by those we knew well and ministered with. Often it’s someone we discipled and trained for years, only to find they have been undermining our ministry any time they could. Christians we have just met can cause scars by their actions as well because we don’t expect that to come from fellow believers.
These things hurt and leave scares which make us hesitant to get close to people or trust others. We can compromise our message so as to not offend others and get more criticism. Some people even leave the ministry because they don’t want to go through these things again. Moses had many scars from the people he led, and eventually his anger at them kept him from entering the Promised Land. No one had more scars, both to His body and His soul, than Jesus because of the way He was treated.
These things are part of the cost of serving Jesus – but the benefits far outweigh the price, both in this life and in eternity. We all will face them (Matthew 10:16-42). If we want to pastor or lead because we want popularity and to be looked up to, we are serving for the wrong reason. People will criticize you for things that aren’t your fault. They will blame you for things you didn’t do. They will exaggerate and even make up stories to make you look bad. They will be harsh to your wife and children. People can be very cruel. Look what they did to Jesus, and if they did that to the master, they will also do it to the servant (John 15:20). They hated Jesus without cause (John 15:17-16:4). Jesus knows what that feels like, too.
The key is to keep these things in perspective. Don’t be surprised when they happen. All who follow Jesus will face these things (2 Timothy 3:12). Serving Him is still the greatest privilege anyone can have. We will be rewarded for our faithfulness through all eternity. Compared to the blessings God has for us, what we go through here is nothing.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
Is Satan able to discourage you by the way others may treat you? How do you overcome it?
What are some of the most painful things you have experienced serving Jesus?
How has He used them to make you more like Jesus?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
Copyright © 2023