Natural love expects to be returned, but Paul didn’t care if he was loved by those he served. He was willing to be ridiculed and overlooked, to be made poor and humble, just so long as he was bringing people to God. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Giving his all wasn’t a burden for Paul; it was a joy: “I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well” (12:15).

The way Jesus thinks about service is not the way the world thinks about it. Jesus Christ out-socialists socialists. He says that in his kingdom the greatest will be the servant of all (Matthew 23:11). The real test for us lies not in preaching the gospel but in washing feet, in doing the things that are little esteemed by the world but count for everything with God.

Paul didn’t care what God’s interests in other people cost him. The instant God asks us to serve, we start making calculations. “God wants me to go there?” we say. “What about the salary? What about the weather? A sensible person has to consider these things.” When we think like this, we’re being selfish and cautious about how we serve God.

Paul was never cautious. He embodied Jesus’s idea of a New Testament disciple, one who not only proclaimed the gospel but became, for the sake of others, broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ.

Wisdom from Oswald

There is nothing, naturally speaking, that makes us lose heart quicker than decay—the decay of bodily beauty, of natural life, of friendship, of associations, all these things make a man lose heart; but Paul says when we are trusting in Jesus Christ these things do not find us discouraged, light comes through them.
The Place of Help