In II Corinthians, in answering the false charges of his critics, Paul mentions a number of things concerning his life.  In 11:23-27 he enumerates a long list of his sufferings for the cause of Christ that he might preach the Gospel.  These men, whom Paul had labeled as “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (11:13), did not even begin to compare with the humble apostle to the Gentiles that they were trying to discredit.  Paul says that he was “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure,  in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft” (11:23).  Five times Paul tells us that he was beaten with 39 stripes, three times he was beaten with rods, the Roman mode of scourging.  These scourgings by the Romans sometimes resulted in death.   One time in Lystra (Acts 14:19), Paul had been stoned almost to the point of death.  In fact, those who stoned him believed him to be dead; three times he had been shipwrecked and he spent 24 hours in the horrifying situation of struggling for life amid ocean waves (11:24-25).  Paul had worked harder, suffered more beatings and/or whippings, had been in prison unjustly, and had stared death in the face more often than any of his critics who dared believe that they could compare favorably with the great man of God.  Due to his many travels in preaching the Gospel he was in constant danger; this was especially true in a day when travel was as dangerous and inconvenient as it was.  He lists eight different types of “perils” that he encountered;  these included “perils of waters, robbers, the Jews, the Gentiles, in the city and in the rural areas, in the sea and among false brethren (11:26-27). 

Can you imagine the “weariness” that Paul must have felt?  How many “watchings” or sleepless nights do you suppose Paul must have suffered?  Can you even begin to imagine the “painfulness” that came from those floggings, those rods, being stoned, imprisoned and shipwrecked?  And then there was the lack of food and drink, the horrible weather conditions and insufficient dress (11:27).  Remember also that back in chapter 4 Paul had told us, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed, Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.  So then death worketh in us, but life in you” (4:8-12). 

How does the modern day preacher compare with this great man of God?  I am thankful to God that we have such a man like Paul to serve as our example.  He, like Christ (Acts 1:1), practiced what he preached.  Was what Paul suffered and endured for the cause of Christ worth it?  Let’s allow some of the Bible writers to weigh in on this question:

“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life”  (Jesus in Rev. 2:10).

“…if any man suffer as a  Christian…let him glorify God on this behalf” (Peter in I Pet. 4:16).

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire…..Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (Peter in I Pet. 1:3-9).

It is apparent from these passages that Jesus, John, and Peter all agree that it is worthwhile to suffer for the cause of Christ.  But, I want to know what Paul thinks about it.  “Paul, would you say that all of those things that you had to endure and suffer were worth it?”  

“…be ye stedfast, unmoveable in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”  ( Paul in I Cor. 15:58).

“Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Paul in  Gal. 6:9).

And as Paul’s death draws nigh he writes,  “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure  is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6-7). Note:  Paul kept the faith through all of those labors, stripes, imprisonments, threats of death, beatings, being stoned, shipwrecks, journeyings, and all of those perils as well as the weariness, painfulness, watchings, hunger, and thirst, cold, and nakedness.  He was lied about, ridiculed, attacked, run out of towns—all because he would not compromise His faith and duty before His God (see Galatians 2:4-5).  Again, we ask, “Paul, was it worth it?”  Listen as Paul concludes his statement began earlier.  “Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (v. 8).   Paul is answering our question in the affirmative.

“Heaven will surely be worth it all!”

– Paul M. Wilmoth January 18, 1944  –  April 5, 2021