“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” (Philippians 3:17)
Saul of Tarsus was a sinner without equal. He called himself the “chief of sinners.” The Apostle Paul was a minister of Christ without equal. His ministry credentials were the scars he carried, the pain he endured, and the dangers he continually faced. (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-29)
Whoever would be a true minister of Christ should be willing to follow in the footsteps of Paul. The ministry is not a place to seek earthly reward. If you would remain faithful in your call you must be willing to give despite what you get in return. If you cannot endure thankless labor, do not proceed. If you cannot abide being falsely accused, slandered, and blasphemed, without becoming bitter and retaliatory, go no further. If you demand respect, think highly of yourself, need approval, and only like those who like you, don’t seek to represent the Suffering Servant. If you are easily offended, hold grudges, find it hard to forgive, or can’t tolerate imperfection, better to not place yourself in a position where you are an example to your fellow believers.
The ministry of Christ is a high and holy calling to aspire to. James warned: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” (James 3:1) There is greater reward for those who fulfill their call; but there is greater judgment for those who don’t.
Paul determined to be as great a saint as he was a sinner. He ran so as to obtain the prize. If you would run, mark him as the model for your ministry. Get ready to endure hardness as a good soldier of our Lord Jesus Christ.