“From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).
Of all of the passages in the Bible this is one that convicts me the most. It’s the one that I think about occasionally because what it communicates is a barometer for my commitment to Christ. This was a statement of the apostle Paul’s commitment to share Christ and live for Christ no matter what. And there is a second passage like it. It’s in II Timothy 4:14. “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm.” Paul suffered at the hands of this man, perhaps with burning or hot metal. It is unthinkable. Yet Paul trusted God with his punishment and he pressed on in faithfulness.
“I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Some translations say, “Brand-marks of Jesus.” A brand on an animal is a sign of ownership. The animal belongs to a certain owner. So too, what Paul suffered at the hands of others he took as a branding. He belonged to Jesus and his suffering was proof as to whom he belonged.
Where are your brand-marks? Maybe it is in a broken relationship since you came to faith in Christ. Perhaps it is an attack by someone who rejected Christ when you tried to share with them. For many Christians around the world today it is in the physical suffering of pain and torture that they must endure at the hands of evil men, as Paul endured what Alexander did to him.
In the West, our brand-marks are shallow, and delivered with a spiritual branding iron that is not so hot. But in places like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and others, the brand-marks are like Paul’s—physical, painful, disfiguring.
Remember that passage in Philippians 4:13? “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Many people interpret this to mean they can accomplish anything. But that is not what this passage means. Paul was suffering in prison when it wrote it. It might better be rephrased like this: “I can endure all things through him who strengthens me.”
What are you willing to endure for Jesus?
“I can [endure] all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
What are you afraid to endure for the name of Christ? Make a list of things that scare you that you fear God might call you to endure for his name. Pray over each item on your list and ask the Lord to do that which will bring him the most glory. Then, as best as you can, surrender your fear to him.