Do You Have What It Takes?
A daily devotion for September 6th
1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3You 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.
4Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He 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.
Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:4-6a).
The new covenant is a very important subject. If I had to list the most important truth in the Word of God, aside from the deity of Christ, I would say it is this truth: that God has given us the new covenant, the new provision for life for His people. But the one thing I find most missing in the church across the world today is the knowledge and understanding of this new way to live.
Paul is talking about confidence, and many people in the world are trying to gain confidence. When you turn on the television or listen to the radio or pick up a magazine, you are constantly bombarded with suggestions on how to become a self-sufficient, confident, capable, well-adjusted person, able to handle life. There are all kinds of approaches, and almost all work on the same basis. Confidence, we are told, has to come from within you. You have to somehow find in yourself the power to achieve and be a success. You can build up confidence through courses you take and skills you develop. That is how you will prove to be a successful individual. The world understands, quite properly, that you have to have a degree of confidence. People who lack confidence are unsure of themselves and insecure, and they go bumbling through life and never make a good impression on anyone and are always failing. Therefore the great thing to aim for is to buildup a deep sense of confidence.
This new covenant that Paul talks about is entirely different from anything the world knows about. The world would say that Paul was a success because he was doing his very dedicated best to give himself totally to mobilize all his resources and his considerable abilities to serve God with all his heart. But if you asked Paul, he would never say that. He would say that there was nothing coming from him. And he is not just being modest; he means that.
I don't make that kind of a contribution at all, he says.
Everything is coming from God. The ability that is evident in my ministry, the changes that occur in people's lives because of what I am and where I go have nothing to do with my natural skills or ability. It's all coming from God at work in me. The old covenant is Paul's trying to do his best on behalf of God; the new covenant is God's doing His best through Paul. What a difference that is! That is the great truth we need to learn. That is true of all Christians, not just apostles. We are all ministers of Christ; there is no special class set aside to be ministers. You too are called to be a minister of the new covenant, depending on God to be at work in you, not on your ability to do something for Him.
Grant to me, Lord, that I may understand the truth, and, counting on You, discover Your ability to change and heal and restore and forgive through me.
Life Application: What is one of the most important truths in the Word of God missing in the church across the world? Can we clearly explain the different life in the new covenant?
From your friends at www.RayStedman.org
Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.