Paul was given ministry by the grace of God. “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me” (Ephesians 3:7). To put it another way, he received his ministry from the Lord: “the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus.” Paul’s bountiful ministry was developed by the grace of God. “I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Also, his ministry was to declare God’s grace: “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul’s life demonstrates that such “grace-saturated” service leads to courageous, selfless ministry.
Paul’s ministry was courageous. “But none of these things move me.” The things that Paul faced were formidable. “The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me” (Acts 20:23). Down through the centuries, matters less substantial than these have moved many a professing Christian from completing his calling. Yet, by leaning upon the sustaining grace of God, Paul courageously endured great hardship and danger in the service of the gospel of grace. “But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5).
Related to this courageous service was Paul’s selflessness: “nor do I count my life dear to myself.” Paul’s ministry was not motivated by self-interest. Rather, it was motivated by the blessings that others could receive and, ultimately, the glory that the Lord would receive. Paul was content to have his service be no more than a spiritual enhancement to the godly service of others. “Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:17). Even more, Paul served for the honor of the Lord Jesus: “according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 2:20). Such renouncing of self allowed Paul to “finish [his] race with joy.” Thus his final testimony would become, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).