PUTTING FAITH TO WORK
2 Cor. 3:4-5
“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.”
Have you ever met someone who just oozed self-confidence? I can't speak for you, but I am a wee bit put off by people who think they can do anything. The fact is they can't. Everyone has weaknesses. We all have shortcomings. We all have areas where we need improvement . . . the area of humility if nowhere else! Let me begin to unpack 2 Cor. 3:4-5 by saying that this passage is not about self-confidence. It is about confidence. It is about boldness. But it isn't about a confidence or boldness that is based on how we think about ourselves. It is about a confidence, a level of assurance, which is grounded upon the faithfulness and power of God. My dad used to say that I could do whatever I put my mind to. You know what, my dad was wrong. I don't live in a "my will be done" universe. I live in a "Thy will be done" universe. God is in charge of it, not me and not you. God is the one who opens and closes doors of opportunity. God is the author of our talents and the source of our gifts. Self-confidence is misplaced confidence. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." -- Prov. 3:5
So what is God saying to us in 2 Cor. 3:4-5? He certainly isn’t saying that we should be afraid to act, be timid about reaching out in service or ministry because we have no confidence in our own competence. No, far from it. God says to his people: "Be bold” and “Be strong!" What He is doing in this passage is warning us not to forget WHY we can be strong and bold; it is because God Himself is with us. He puts us where we need to be and gives us the gifts and the power to do the things He wants us to do. In the next chapter Paul closes out this discussion by reminding us that God puts these things into jars of clay, earthen vessels, so that it will be clear to everyone - those who minister and those who receive ministry - that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from His ministers. The glory and honor belongs to Him, not to us.
But as for competence; on the one hand, we are not competent in ourselves, but on the other hand, we are not incompetent either. We are fully equipped and spiritually able to accomplish whatever task God puts before us because HE IS FAITHFUL. So put your faith in God and put your hands to the plow. There is work to be done. As the old song says: Be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you!
--- Pastor Keith Andrews