Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3
When you get up in the morning and those feet hit the ground, you are a letter known and read by everyone. When you put on those boots and walk out the door, you are a letter wherever you go. And not only that, you are a fragrance too — a fragrance of Christ to God. Christ and God have this thing going on in you. Do you believe this? Are you conscious of it?
I think I may be starting to get it. It’s not that we do any of this — we can’t, it’s all His doing — but God does leave us with something to do. I’ve had the tendency to think that being a letter and a fragrance is largely an unconscious activity that pretty much absolves me from responsibility. God’s going to do what He wants as I go along so I might as well do what I want. Well, what if what I want is to be left alone? What if I want to be isolated? How is anyone going to “read” me then?
If you are a fragrance and a letter, are you going to choose the seat by yourself? What good is the fragrance if no one can get close enough to smell it? What good is a letter if it’s so far away no one can see the fine print? These metaphors assume we are in relationships. They assume conversation, engagement. The letter is your life, but no one is going to read about it in the newspaper. They “read” you in a relationship with you. Otherwise the letter and the fragrance are wasted.
Can you imagine Paul walking into the marketplace and finding a spot to be by himself? No. He’d be in dialogue. He’d be asking and answering questions. He’d end up preaching probably because that was his gift. He’s got the fragrance of Christ, for heaven’s sake, is he going to keep that all to himself? Are you?
I must say that for me, I have been largely keeping it to myself. You see, I’m a natural born introvert. I have to overcome something in myself in order for God’s message in me to make any difference in the world. So I do have a job to do. It’s not to be a fragrance (I already am) or to be a letter (I am already) but to overcome the barriers in myself that keep me from being in relationships where these things in my life can make a difference in someone else’s life. That’s when I have to call on the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome my fear. This means even at home, or perhaps I should say: especially at home.
God is going to use us but we’ve got to show up — we’ve got to engage — in order for the Holy Spirit He has placed in us to do His work. Who’s going to read your letter? Who’s going to get a whiff of Christ in you sending a sweet fragrance up to God? Where are these people? Where are these relationships? How are we doing with that?
The 21 Day Challenge
— Day Six —
The Visible Evidence
2 Corinthians, Chapter 3:1-2
- Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?
- You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.
Letters of Recommendation
While seeking a position in the workforce, potential employers request previous employers to provide letters of recommendation. It makes sense because the potential employer does not know you from any one else whereas your previous employers have had a hand in your successes. Yet, don’t you think it rather odd that the good citizens of Corinth are requesting letters of recommendation from Paul? Certainly Paul is a well known man amongst them, having lead them to Christ.
Paul’s response to the request for a letter of recommendations is basically, “You have got to be kidding!”
Rather Paul addresses the Corinthians as “our” (Paul and his team) letter of recommendation, written by Christ on our hearts. Unlike Moses who delivered God’s message on stones, God did the work: He wrote it on their hearts, and the ink he used was the Holy Spirit. Paul was, as is the case for you and me, merely the postman.
For Your Consideration
You are undoubtedly an unusually competent person with extraordinary gifts (or wish you were). You are smart (or you envy those who are). You have a powerful personality (or would give your right arm to be life of the party); You are simply remarkable (or at least your mother thinks so). Paul was all of this and more (lineage, he tithed, never broke rules, a part of the ruling body of the Jews, morally above reproach, and blameless). Yet he considered this all as – worthless.
- What will it take for you to understand that it is not up to you anymore?
- Take some time to yourself to recognize that the Lord of all Lords, the Christ, the Holy Messiah is working through you. This reality is important enough that it is worth spending some serious time on. You will want to get away from everything you have to do — all the tasks that typically take up a day — and focus on nothing other so that you will come away with a crystal clear picture of the Lord of all Lords, the Christ, the Holy Messiah is working through you.
This is the New Covenant.
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