Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You 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.
Such confidence we have 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—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:1-18 (NIV)
As I dig through 2 Corinthians, I am drawn back to my childhood. Kay and Doc were our neighbors, but we loved them like family. Kay had a lot of health issues and I think the ocean was for her a place of solace and closeness to Her Jesus. So they went often and at times brought me with them. Kay and I would comb the shore doing a dance she called the “Sanibel stoop”. Walk, Stoop, Collect a shell, stand up, walk some more, repeat. Those treasures we found filled our bucket and continue to fill my memories and my home.
God’s Word is like that.
I found some treasure for my bucket today in 2 Corinthians 3. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth and He has been talking to them about WHO they are. He has touted them as prayer warriors and the fragrance of Christ. He paints pictures of them being ambassadors of the Savior and with each word he writes I am filled with longing. I want to be like that.
I want to be to others, the “fragrance of the knowledge of Him”. I want to be a prayer warrior. Then I realize; although he writes this to the church at Corinth He also writes it to the Church today. To me, to you, to all who proclaim Christ as their Savior. He tells us we are all these things. We are “to God, the aroma of Christ”, through us He “spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Then in chapter three, he pens the sweetest thing, he says we are also a “life giving letter”.
Funny, because I think so often we can be the life-suckers. Many on the outside looking in, those who are perishing, they see us as rule-followers and finger pointers, Bible-thumpers and the righteous elite. We paint a picture in our heads of us -vs- them. Sometimes leaving an impression that says you are bad and I am good.
At times we get so caught up in the letter of the law that we forget that “the letter kills”. We often forget that it was that “letter of the law” that condemned us. Remember? That law set us up to see that God’s standards are truly impossible for us to fulfill. Our inability to keep the “letter of the law” shines a huge spotlight on our unrighteousness! OUR unrighteousness.
We are a life-giving letter because God has lifted the veil from our eyes through Jesus Christ and we see! No longer dull in our thinking, we understand that “The Lord is Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!” It is not us -vs- them, we were them! It is us sent to them! It is us along side of them.
We are called to be a life-giving letter, a letter full of a glory that surpasses that of the glory that shown on Moses’ face when the Lord passed him by in the cleft of the rock. We know the gospel truth, Jesus came into the world to bear God’s wrath for our unrighteousness, we have received His gift and now “We who with unveiled faces” – We reflect His glory. We are His love letter. We are a life-giving letter of hope and freedom.
There are countless beachcombers walking around, looking for the treasure. They are distracted by the world & owned by the enemy, just like we were. They bend and stoop but they don’t see the treasure because there is a veil that covers their eyes.
God sent them a letter but will we get close enough to let them open it?
Good and gracious God, your glory is hard to comprehend and yet you say that we are a reflection of that glory. You are all-powerful and yet you choose to use us to do your work, you choose US to be your messengers. Help us to take that responsibility seriously. Help us to remember that the ground is all level at the foot of the cross and equip us to lead others to kneel beside us there with humility and gratitude for the gift of your Son. In His name, we pray… and so let it be.
Today’s post was written by Nora Elkins.
Nora is married 31 years to her first love, Scott. They have raised four children into adulthood and are now enjoying the reward of professional grandparenting. Nora can be found living the real-life version of “Fuller House” in her four generation household – where her 96-year-old dad is the favorite playmate of her precious grandkids. She is a “maker” at heart and loves creating personalized gifts – whether it’s for her shop on Etsy or special orders from friends. She also enjoys coloring in her bible and documenting her faith through journaling and bible study. You can find her serving at our Longwood campus where she practices the spiritual gift of warm hugs and happy smiles and if you’re lucky you may even catch her dancing to the music in the parking lot before service.