Rebecca Van Noord
We file letters of recommendation from pastors, past supervisors, and teachers that highlight our skills, attitude, and work ethic. They present us as ideal candidates, glossing over the things we lack and the ways in which we’ve failed. But Paul’s letter of recommendation tells another story:
“You are our letter, inscribed on our hearts, known and read by all people, revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, inscribed not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:2–3).
Paul saw the work God was doing in the lives of the Corinthians. Through the work of the Spirit, they were drawn together as a community. Their response to the gospel testified that Paul was fulfilling the task that he was called to do.
But Paul doesn’t stay focused on himself in this passage. He switches the focus to the Spirit: “Now we possess such confidence through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor 3:4–5). Ultimately, Paul’s confidence finds itself in Christ’s work and the life-giving work of the Spirit.
Our successes and failures are put into a proper context when we read Paul’s message. All the good we do attests to the Spirit’s work in our lives; it is a testimony of a life redeemed by Christ. And the bad isn’t glossed over by God—it is paid for. It’s His letter of recommendation that really matters, for He knows who we really are.
How are you living a life that attests to God’s power in you, not your own qualities or traits?
Barry, J. D., & Van Noord, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.