This passage in our text chapter from this past Sunday reveals to me a great deal about the make up of Paul and his commitment to the cause of Christ. Not only was he willing to face hardship for the sake of the Gospel he was not going to allow the hardship to deter him from the mission at hand. In fact he embraced the opportunity to endure hardship for the Gospel and saw it as a very real mark of his commitment. This is revealed so clearly in Paul's writing to the Galatians in chapter 6: 7Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. When he writes this it is impossible to not imagine he is referring to the inevitable scars he received from the horrific experience of his stoning. Paul was a true leader who so believed in his calling that he relished the opportunity to exhibit his commitment by standing in the face of opposition. Not only did his convictions compel him to press on in spite of the persecution, in fact I contend, his convictions compelled him to go back because of the persecution. You see the marks, the scars that he received that day, that he carried with him throughout his life, were a testament to his commitment to his principles. This is the mindset we who follow Christ must carry with us into the hardships of life. Do not reject or avoid the struggles of this life but embrace them knowing that they are very real marks of your commitment to the Gospel and that those hardships will bear great reward in your spiritual formation.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1