Do you have scars? For the most part, all of us have scars of some sort. Some of them are visible, and some of them are invisible, but we do have scars. Behind every scar that we have, most of us can share a story. I know I have several scars, some of them from surgery, some of them from athletics, and some of them from doing stupid things!
In life, we will be wounded. These wounds can leave scars. Some physical, spiritual, and emotional. I want to focus on the emotional scars that sometimes wound us deeper than anything. These are scars you don’t see, the scars of people hurting us, scars of betrayal, gossip, divorce, broken families, and people saying things about us that are not true. The list can go on and on. The apostle Paul faced many attacks in his lifetime. A lot of those attacks came from people who claim to be religious. Some of those attacks came from people who claimed to be his friends.
In the letter to the Galatians, Paul bears his soul to us and tells us about what he is going through for the sake of Christ. People were attacking him. They were questioning his authenticity. These attacks were not only verbal against him but also physical attacks. But then Paul declares something at the end of his letter to the church in Galatia. “From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.” Galatians 6:17 ESV
He was saying his scars told the story of him belonging to Christ. What is the evidence that Paul belongs to Jesus? He carries the “marks of Jesus,” as one translation puts it, on his body. The Greek word for marks is stigmata, often used to describe a brand applied on cattle or a slave. Paul’s scars, though, were not put there by Jesus directly. They were given to Paul by his persecutors because he preached about Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:24–25). He now wore the marks as signs of Jesus’ ownership of him.
Indeed, the religious leaders should have left a man belonging to the Son of God alone. They did not, however. Paul would continue to be persecuted for the sake of Jesus until his death, refusing to become weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).
The real problem is most Christians today believe that life should never bring trouble if they serve Christ. This is a false message; you’re going to have bad days! There’s no escaping it. Life is going to bring ups and downs, mountain tops and valleys. When we walk through these things, will we still glorify God even though we have a few bumps, bruises, and, yes, even scars along the journey? Jesus never promised us paradise here in this life. However, in John 14:18, Jesus promised never to leave or forsake us on this journey.
I know it’s hard to forgive people sometimes. But after a while, we must realize that true forgiveness is not about letting somebody get away with something or get off the hook for something they’ve done to you. Forgiveness is about you letting yourself off the hook. It’s about you being able to breathe, move on, and live your life as a conqueror through Christ. This cannot happen through your abilities but only through the power of the Holy Spirit; remember, Romans 8:37: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” It’s through Jesus we find the power to forgive. Through Jesus, our scars can testify to the world about His power to heal and restore.
One last thing I want to share with you is that Joy is not what people think it is. Joy is not happiness. Joy is knowing that God is in control and that He is with me every step through life’s journey; the byproduct of joy is happiness and peace. And that’s what we need—happiness and peace on our journey to heaven. To know that everything will be all right as long as Jesus is with us.
In His Love,