“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also has made us able ministers of the New Covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” – 2 Corinthians 3:5,6
The world takes for granted the abilities that they are given by God. Unbelievers will quickly let you know what they have accomplished in life by themselves and all the hard work that went into what they have achieved. The great effort that one invests into their accomplishments is not the issue, but rather where did they get the ability to have success? The Bible is very clear that no one person has intuitive self-ability to initiate and complete a task without the common grace of God. All abilities, talents, and unique gifts that each person possesses are directly from God’s common grace. “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28a). If this is true when it comes to everyday life, then how much more is it for the Christian community? Many times Christians fall into a trap where we go out of our way to glowingly mention to others about what we and our church has done. There is nothing sinful about that but the danger is that a trap door of self-reliance and pride has been opened which could lead to sin.
None of us have or will ever have the spiritual success like the apostle Paul. Yet in our opening verses Paul immediately squashes out self-reliance and self-recognition of any kind. He did not dare take credit for himself or give any recognition to any other apostle, minister, or church for the work that only God can do. He knew and believed that any change of heart in a convert was because of God’s grace working in that individual. Paul knew that he was only an instrument of God made to be an “able minister of the New Covenant.” Therefore he was quick to declare that any ability or sufficiency was a direct gift of God.
Oh may I, as well as the Christian community as a whole, fully adopt the heart of Paul in this important area of ministry. When we fully realize that “our sufficiency is of God” to help others and that we have been made spiritual ministers to pray, to encourage, to feed, to cloth, and to teach others about the love and the grace of God. Then maybe – just maybe, God will allow us to minister in some small degree the spirit of grace to hurting souls like Paul did.
When we see that we are at best empty vessels filled by the Spirit of God as “able ministers of the New Covenant” to share the spirit of grace. Then in God’s perfect timing we will witness God setting the lost free in Christ.
David C. Hale, pastor