“I’M SPIRITUAL BECAUSE I SAY SO”
Look carefully at how Paul describes his ministry: triumphant (2 Cor 2:14); the fragrance of Christ in every place (2 Cor 2:15); sincere (2 Cor 2:16). The Corinthian church had the idea that Paul was prideful, bragging about his personal accomplishments in ministry. Are these the words of a self-made man or are these the words of a transformed man?
Paul asks plainly, “do we begin again to commend ourselves?” (2 Cor 3:1). How easy it is to fall into the trap of human accomplishment when it comes to our spirituality. If my spirituality depends on my “say-so”, then I believe the lie that I can create my own destiny.
Here’s how I know I can’t create my own destiny: I can’t control my own body functions. Can you stop yourself from blinking? You prove my point if you nod off during a church service. How much thought do you put into liver function? The body has a mind of its own doesn’t it?
Paul is not playing the spiritual one-upmanship game, building himself up to the Corinthians all over again because of self-made spirituality. You know the games:
- “How many people did YOU lead to Christ?”
- “How’s your Bible reading going? I read three chapters before breakfast.”
- “Hey brother! How long did you pray today?”
Paul writes, “Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?” (2 Cor 3:1).
A few years back I was invited to speak at a week-long Pastor’s conference in Kenya, Africa. I was introduced to the congregation and gave my first lecture of the week. At the end of the lecture I opened the floor for questions. An elderly man in the back raised his hand and asked “who are you? why should we listen?” He was not interested in my credentials--he wanted to know my testimony!
Paul does something interesting: he produces an unusual credential that not only affirms his ministry, but also helps us understand the source of true spirituality. He produces a letter of approval that the Corinthians cannot deny or refute, like holding up a mirror.
We will take a look at this unusual credential next week.