Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. 2 Corinthians 2:17
The key to this verse, indeed the key to the whole New Covenant ministry, is sincerity. As you can tell from this verse, peddling the word of God for profit was already going on in Paul’s day. It’s almost as if he’s warning the Corinthians about First Century televangelists. Sincerity was in short supply then, too.
If you stick with this 21-day Challenge, you will not only know about sincerity, you will find out how we are able to be sincere ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The whole of this challenge is Paul revealing the secret of having an impact with your life. He’s already talked about how the impact of having the fragrance of Christ in your life can divide a room by how people respond to you. Now he wants us to know how important it is to walk and talk with sincerity.
All well and good, but how do you do it? Honestly, knowing myself as I do, any kind of ministry model that doesn’t take into account my human weaknesses and character flaws, would force me to be less than sincere. I wouldn’t be able to show or tell the whole truth about myself, and my guess is you wouldn’t be able to either. So what do we do?
Part of the answer is in the meaning behind the very word Paul uses for sincere.
It’s a word that in his day had implications in the pottery business and it meant “tested by the sun.” If a piece of pottery developed cracks in the firing process as often happened, unscrupulous peddlers hocking their wares in the marketplace would fill the cracks with wax and then put a glaze over it, thus masking the weakness of the material. The only way you could tell was to hold the piece up to the sun and the sunlight would show through the cracks. So “tested by the sun” here became for Paul a picture of standing before the light of God which would honestly reveal who we are, cracks and all — a perfect illustration of how God works through us taking into account the flaws in our characters.
This is what he means by speaking before God with sincerity. It’s hard to imagine being anything but sincere standing in the presence of Almighty God.
We live in a time when there are many benefits to be had from the gospel. A huge Christian subculture is paying billions of dollars for a safer Christian alternative to the world’s culture (i.e. music, movies, television, radio, schools, books, cruises, nursing homes, etc.). Prosperity preachers preach a gospel of wealth and material possessions. And politicians get elected by appealing to the powerful evangelical block of voters. Whenever there is something to be gained from the message, you have to at least be wary of the sincerity of the messenger. When questioning someone’s sincerity, ask yourself, “Is this man standing before God right now? Can I see the Lord?”
All the more reason for us to stand before God and reveal the truth about ourselves. Yes, the light of God reveals our flaws, but it is also the light shining through those very flaws that can give glory to God and save and heal others. Where the Spirit is, there is a sincere heart.
The 21 Day Challenge
— Day Five —
“Those First Century televangelists”
2 Corinthians, Chapter 2:17
2 Corinthians 2:17
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
- Find a mirror and look deeply into the reflection. Probe your heart as you ask yourself, “Am I someone who speaks before God with sincerity, as one sent from God? Or am I just a peddler for my own profit?” Take a selfie and think about this question as you carry on with your day.
I use to think peddling the word of God referred to many Christian Bookstores, where 80% of the profit is jewelry and trinkets sold with the remaining gain coming from Bibles and books, or the hawkers at the airport handing out their tracks and asking for money. But not any more.
Rather, I think peddling the word of God may refer to prominent preachers who imply that Christ changes our human situation into something far more impressive — perhaps silver or gold. “Today’s animated peddlers bounce on tiptoes and announce in lilting, breathy tones how God has turned us into ‘silver chalices’ and ‘golden bowls.’ A peddler is someone who preaches but never touches the poor. A peddler judges the behavior of others while using a superficial, shallow approach to the Word of God – without ever first looking in the mirror.
Peddlers are big shots, domineering leaders insisting on the last word, people trying to win the approval of others. They try to please people. They can make us feel guilty because we haven’t quite made it like they have before God. Peddlers tell us how to earn frequent flyer miles to God.
Peddlers are dishonorable: They retell a compelling story as if it were their own.
They are corrupt: “If you get a certain number of new people to church next week,” the pastor exclaims, “I will eat my hat.”
Peddlers are degrading:“I will give you a dollar next week,” says the Sunday school teacher, “if you come back to Sunday School.”
Peddlers are deceptive: They play on emotions to get people to give money; tell stories to purposely bring people to tears, or create specular events just to attract people. They cause blame to be fixed on anyone but themselves
“Unlike so many,” Paul says, “we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, He continues, “in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
We, you and I, are commissioned by God, for Heaven’s sake. We speak with honesty. We proclaim the truth of God so that people are delivered and set free — that is what every one of us has been commissioned to declare as the light shines through us in the midst of the darkness. It is God who is within us. He is able to work His work and do His will, that out of our fear, frustration, and failure is coming triumph and victory and the fragrance of Jesus Christ.
- What did you see when you looked deeply into your own reflection? When you probed your heart, did it confirm you were one who spoke before God with sincerity — or — did you discover that you were just a peddler, having never touched the poor?
- And so, if you found that you spoke before God with sincerity, what are you going to do about it? And if you found that you were just a peddler, having never touched the poor, what are you going to do about that?
- Take a Selfie. We would love to share your Selfie with the Catch Community. Send it to John (John.Fischer@mac.com and/or Marti (MartiFischer@mac.com).
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