READING: Proverbs 8-9, 2 Corinthians 3
“You yourselves are our letter.”
2 Corinthians 3:2
As a minister of the gospel, how do I affirm the “success” of my ministry? Maybe it’s the size of the church I lead. Or the number of people who join the church. Or the degrees I have on my wall. Or the dollars that my congregation contributes. Or the recognitions that my denomination gives. Or the books that I write. Or the number of readers of my blog. . . . I could go on and on with the options, as the means by which we might evaluate ministries are probably more than I can number.
On the other hand, the apostle Paul spoke of a different means to affirm his work. In Corinth, as false teachers questioned Paul’s legitimacy as a church leader, the apostle pointed to the believers in Corinth as the evidence of his work: “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone” (2 Cor. 3:2). He did not need any letters of recommendation from others, as the believers were themselves the proof that God was working through him. Those letters were not letters written with ink on paper, but with the Spirit of God writing on the hearts of the people. Those lives were written on Paul’s heart, too, for he deeply loved the Corinthian believers; they were living letters affirming the power of the gospel and the validity of his ministry.
With this writing in mind, I’m reminded to evaluate my ministry not on what I do, but on what the people I lead do. Do they walk faithfully with God? Do they believe and love His Word? Do they speak regularly to Him in prayer? Do they tell others about Him? Do they fight to make holy choices? Do they love their families with the love of Christ? Do they love the nations like God does? Do they serve through His church? Do they give sacrificially to God’s work? If the answer to these question is “no,” I must question the effectiveness of my work.
Here’s the point for me today: if I finish ministry with degrees and awards behind my name, but with no “living letters” carrying on God’s work after me, all that I’ve achieved diminishes in value.
- Consider this question: “Who are the ‘living letters’ in my life?”
- Honestly evaluate your life on the basis of those who follow Christ because of your witness and leadership.
PRAYER: “God, use me for Your glory alone. Use me to raise up others who follow You.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Proverbs 10-12, 2 Corinthians 4