A Few More Scars

by APC on July 17, 2019

I have a white line less than a quarter of an inch long on the forearm of my right arm. It’s where my childhood dog bit me when she was a puppy. There’s an indentation on my lower lip from where I cut it open with a plastic spoon as a child. I’ve got a few spots on my legs where I scratched too hard when I had the chicken pox in second grade. There’s a mark on my head near the hairline from when I cracked into the corner of mirror cabinet late last year.

Those spots—and many more I didn’t describe—are all scars from one battle or experience in my life. We all have them. Some bring back fond memories of childhood. Some help us relive an epic event. Some are solemn reminders of past wounds we soon rather forget.

From now on let no one trouble me [by making it necessary for me to justify my authority as an apostle, and the absolute truth of the gospel], for I bear on my body the branding-marks of Jesus [the wounds, scars, and other outward evidence of persecutions—these testify to His ownership of me] (Galatians 6:17, AMP).

Paul was a man I feel dealt with more hardship than anyone else in the Bible. Yes, I’ve read the Book of Job, but Job went into detail about a few of his trials. Paul summed his up in a few lines. Paul was imprisoned numerous times, beaten with 39 stripes 5 times, beaten with rods 3 times, stoned, shipwrecked 3 times, in numerous perils, without food, without shelter, without adequate clothing, etc., etc.—the list goes on and on (II Corinthians 11:23–28).

Oh, and remember the viper that bit Paul on the island of Melita? Paul shook it off into the fire and wasn’t impacted by the venom, but the Bible doesn’t say anything about there not being any puncture marks left behind (Acts 28:3–5).

From these trials, Paul earned a few war wounds. He had a few battle scars. But, Paul didn’t call them scars, he calls them branding-marks. What are these exactly? They’re “holy scars” so-to-speak that Paul earned serving the Lord Jesus. Paul claims in his abundant trials, the scars (marks) left behind testified of God’s ownership over Him. The marks showed he was a slave (or servant) to Jesus Christ.

I’m reminded of a practice in the Old Testament where a slave could opt, at the moment of release, to stay with his master. He would be marked as a permanent servant of one lord, ministering to no one else for as long as he lived (Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17). The slave wasn’t necessarily enduring trials and tribulations but would voluntary take a mark to show ownership to someone else.

When I reflect on Paul’s statement, I realize he truly desired tribulations (Romans 5:3) because he knew he’d receive a mark from the experience. The mark would reinforce his identity with Christ and would justify his authority as a worker of Christ. They were necessary to bear the truth of the gospel.

If we are going to be a worker in God’s kingdom, or be identified as a child of God, we need a few marks as well. You can’t bear a mark unless you’ve gone through the trial, had the experience, or fought in the battle. Your mark shows the world you’ve been there, done that, and that God’s brought you through and received the glory for it. Why? Because you belong to Him. You live your life for Him, no matter the cost, no matter how deep the wound, no matter how large the scar.

We all have our physical scars, but I pray we can get some spiritual ones as well. We all need to proudly bear the mark of being a servant of the most high God. I want a few more scars. How about you?