I CAN READ YOU LIKE A LETTER
Gracious Lord, I turn my thoughts to you and open myself to the Spirit. Speak Lord, as I wait before you.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 3:1-6
3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIf someone were to write a letter of commendation for you, what would it say?
My first vicar taught me that in the event of a dispute it is far better to see the person involved rather than write a letter. We can be grateful that on this occasion Paul didn’t follow that advice; otherwise, we would never have had this marvelous letter! Hovering in the background is the issue of the false teachers at Corinth who were trying to undermine Paul’s ministry. They followed the customary practice of providing letters written by other churches (or possibly by themselves!) commending their work (v 1).
Paul did not need such testimony to authenticate his ministry: no character references, no framed qualifications on his office wall – just lives transformed by Jesus and indwelt by the Spirit of God (vs 2,3). He dispenses with pen and ink, instead pointing to flesh and blood people whose lives are an open letter able to be read by anyone. This approach puts the church on the right course. Would people visiting Corinth ‘read’ them? Perhaps this bit of the letter challenged them to ‘get a grip’ and mend their ways.
We too have care and responsibility for others – whether a child, partner, friend or colleague. Are their lives, as the result of our influence, a book that others would delight to read?!
A transformed life is a more reliable guide than a formal reference, but when recommending someone, maybe both are needed.
Mighty God, you can take whatever I offer you and multiply it beyond my wildest dreams. Continue to work your kingdom purposes through me.
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