“ 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.” (2 Cor. 11:22-33).

We are not told in Scripture to seek for sufferings, persecutions, poverty or any form of trials. But we are assured that If we are true followers of Christ we will surely experience some form of sufferings and trials either we want it or not.

“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, ” ( Phil. 1:29).

How many of the famous modern day apostles, prophets, tele-evangelists and preachers will identify himself with the verses above? Isn’t it usually about the bigness of their churches, the wealth acquired, testimonies of greatness, achievements, claims of the supernatural, oratorical prowess/ persuasive words of man’s wisdom? These are the things many modern day ministers boast about. And these to many today are the marks of true ministry and of God’s approval.

Paul said that he experienced nakedness, hunger, thirst, hatred, perils of different sorts- shipwreck, stoning, weariness, robberies etc. Would someone like Paul be counted as a man of faith by many of today’s Christians and preachers? If Paul lives in our days how many preachers will invite him to their pulpit with such credentials? He would be told by many that he has no anointing, he is bad news and they don’t want his fake anointing!

Please, as you read this, do not misundetstand what l am trying to say. I am not advocating that a preacher should be poverty stricken, seek sufferings, work himself to death or not enjoy life. The Bible teaches no such thing. And l say no such thing.

My main point is that the church at large has been wrongly taught, and is still being wrongly taught by prosperity preachers that suffering should not be identified with a man or woman of faith, and that prosperity is a sign of God’s approval in life and ministry. I have heard Christians talk about fellow Christians passing through trials that there’s something definitely, secretly going on in their lives, if not so, why should they suffer this much if they are true Christians? We cannot use prosperity as a yardstick of God’s approval, neither can we use poverty and sufferings as a yardstick of His disapproval in the Church or vice versa.

Not one apostle of Christ ever boasted of any earthly goods and achievements in their ministry, not even about supernatural revelations they received from God, or miracles that happened in their ministries. Rather, all their boastings had to do with their infirmities, weaknesses, trials and sufferings for Christ. Contrast that with the boastings of preachers today.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor.12:9-10).

I”f I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.”
(2 Cor. 11:30).

They were not ashamed to say that they had needs, weaknesses, distresses etc. just like everyone else. They never counted such as lack of faith but rather the trial of faith (2 Cor.6:5,10, 2Cor. 12:10).

“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God. ” Col. 1:24 – 25.

Paul suffered for the Believers and he rejoiced in his sufferings for them. Today, many G.O’s and Senior Pastors and prophets empty the pockets and bank accounts of their Church members to build and fulfill their own dreams.

Paul stated: “besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? “ Here was a minister deeply concerned for his flock. Their pain, weaknesses, stumblings were also his.

Material blessings, prosperity, a large congregation and eloquence are not the signs of God’s approval or of His presence in the life of a minister, Church, or Christian.

When we see a minister flaunting his prosperity or achievements in ministry it should not move us. Don’t envy people or think that because you do not have earthly stuffs as much as some ministers or Christians there’s something wrong with you, or they are more spiritual than you are, or that they have a special standing with God than you.

Many of those things men look at and applaud as successes in ministry are all going to be burnt down into ashes at the judgement seat. Many are building what God did not command. Even though they seem to be prospering, their works are nothing but the carnal efforts of carnal men.

“And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
( Luke 16:15).

As a Minister of Christ, do not add to the Scriptures. Preach God’s Word in Spirit and in truth. Preach the simple, true and pure Word of God and leave the result to Him. Be humble. Be faithful to God. Stop looking at men. Look at Jesus. Never stop looking at Jesus. And let your boasting be about Christ alone.

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