I do. As a guy, I love telling the story of my scars- especially the ones I got on my arm from a motorcycle accident- laying the bike down, skidding down the street, the blood, having the gravel scoured with a brush- that kind of story. Scars always have stories.
So when Paul says, “From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus”- it got me thinking about scars. Paul had plenty of them: beatings and whippings leave lasting marks, as do iron shackles and sharp stones thrown by an angry mob. His body told a hundred stories. But there were other scars, too- ones that couldn’t be seen but were just as real, had been just as painful. The hidden marks left by rejection, mistreatment, and humiliation. The lasting abrasions on the soul from the wounds of supposed friends, co-workers, even partners in the gospel. Being stabbed in the back can really scar your heart.
But Paul isn’t whining about these scars, far from it. These physical and emotional wounds have become badges of honor- symbols of loyal service to a faithful friend and beloved King. The pain has been transformed into wisdom, the hurt has only made him stronger, wiser, and more focused. His battle scars are like a general’s stars- ranking his authority in God’s upside down kingdom.
So what are your “for Jesus scars? I’ve got some of those, too. Some rejections, mistreatment, even betrayal. Not Paul’s level, for sure. But they’re real, as are yours. And they will either become the story of what we learned and how God grew us, or they’ll become the story of how life isn’t fair and we got a raw deal. One or the other. And I want mine to count. I want them to tell a story of growth and purpose and even joy. Not of whining and self-pity. How about you? What stories do your scars tell?