I’ve written dozens of letters of recommendation for friends, family, and congregants. A good letter can allow colleges, companies, scholarship foundations, and prospective employers to know if a certain person is qualified to receive entrance, a position, or financial assistance. Is this person worthy? Trustworthy? Acceptable? In situations like this, letters attempt to fill in the gap of a relationship. If a relationship were already established, there would be no need for a letter. The “letter” would be written in the person, not on paper.
- When have you felt underqualified or overqualified for a specific opportunity?
READ THE WORD: 2 CORINTHIANS 3:1-18 (ESV)
3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, 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 is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 1-6.)
- Reread verses 1-3. Why do you think Paul moved his readers from focusing on societal credentials to personal credentials?
- “Ministry” or “serving” is simply making a spiritual difference in the lives of others. What are some ways that our culture typically measures someone’s ministry credentials? How should they be measured?
- According to verses 4-6, where does our sufficiency to serve others come from? How does this happen?
- What do you think Paul meant when he said, “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”?
- Have you ever thought that your life was actually a “letter from Christ”? Take some time to evaluate what kind of letter you are.
RESPOND TO GOD
The world would say that Paul was credible because of his heritage, education, and experience. But Paul would say that nothing came from him, and everything came from God. The ability evident in Paul’s ministry and the changes that occurred in people’s lives had nothing to do with his natural skills. The Old Covenant was Paul trying to do his best on behalf of God; the New Covenant is God doing his best through Paul. What a difference that is! That’s true of all Christians, not just apostles. We are all ministers of Christ. You, too, are a credible minister of the New Covenant, depending on God to be at work in you, not on your ability to do something for him.
- Acknowledge today that your “sufficiency is from God.”
- Ask God to work in and through you as you faithfully minister to others.