4Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,6who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4–6)
There is a natural and sinful tendency to succumb to the desire to compete with others, fueled by attitudes of both jealousy and superiority. We are commonly disposed to identify with a preferred guru, a preferred agenda, and a preferred group of likeminded cohorts emboldened by desires for significance. These preferences typically come with prideful hearts and divisive communications.
The church in Corinth that the Apostle Paul loves and cares about is engaging in this same battle. Within their community of faith, a spirit of partisanship is being spun up, diminishing Paul, his ministry associates, and the gospel work they were doing. Paul and his group are not as polished and impressive as some of their detractors. In an attempt to gain more influence and power, these critics are driving divisive wedges with insults and ridicule.
Paul’s reaction is not to engage in the same petty comparative nonsense. He asks the members of the Corinthian church to examine the reality of their spiritual life and gospel faith. The gospel Paul and his associates share, manifests the transforming grace of God among them. Their gospel beliefs and new lives are revealing the evidence of the power and presence of Jesus Christ.
It is the reality of the evidence of transformed lives, not just beliefs, that Paul says confirms the validity of their gospel ministry among them. As a real leader and example of humble dependence, Paul gives all the glory to God for the changes occurring in the hearts and lives of the people in the church in Corinth. The power of God in Christ they have been sharing in Corinth is the same power of God in Christ that enables their ministry. The light, life, and liberty on display among the members of the church in Corinth testify to the sufficiency of God’s gospel grace and power in and through their ministry to the people in the church in Corinth.
The ministry of any church bears fruit because of gospel truth tapped into the sufficiency of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The transformation of beliefs and lives confirms the Christ-centered truth is alive in their hearts. The power is God’s and the glory is God’s! No man or group can take credit for it.
Christ-honoring fruitfulness is the hope of every true follower of Jesus. This is the hope we have. This is the hope we share. May God be glorified through the lives of His people changed by gospel grace!