Paul’s idea of service is the same as our Lord’s. Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). Paul echoed him: “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

We have the idea that Jesus’s ministers are called to be different kinds of beings, that they should be higher and holier than other people. Jesus said his ministers should be other people’s doormats: spiritual leaders, not superiors. When Paul wrote, “We commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses” (6:4), he was describing the lengths he would go to as Christ’s servant. He wanted to spend himself to the last penny; he didn’t care if people stepped all over him.

Paul didn’t draw his motivation for serving from a love for humanity. The well he drew from was his love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we will soon be crushed and brokenhearted—we may often meet with more ingratitude from humanity than we might from a dog! But if our motive is to love God, no amount of ingratitude will keep us from serving.

Paul’s experience of how Jesus Christ had dealt with him is the secret of his determination to serve others: “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy” (1 Timothy 1:13). Paul realized that others could never treat him as badly as he’d treated Jesus. When we too come to this realization—when we see that Jesus Christ has served us despite our selfishness and cruelty and sin—nothing we meet with from others can shake our determination to serve them in his name.

Wisdom from Oswald

The message of the prophets is that although they have forsaken God, it has not altered God. The Apostle Paul emphasizes the same truth, that God remains God even when we are unfaithful (see 2 Timothy 2:13). Never interpret God as changing with our changes. He never does; there is no variableness in Him.  Notes on Ezekiel, 1477 L