2 Corinthians 2:5-3:18; 2 Kings 15-16; Micah 5:2-15
Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “Things just aren’t right?” They have all the credentials for the job, but things don’t seem to click. Something is out of place. A number of years ago my wife was asked to interpret for a young man in a church setting. Everywhere she tried to set up, the music minister made some negative comment about how it wouldn’t work. Instead of trying to find a way to work with her, he kept trying to get her to give up. He didn’t know my wife. She finally found a place to set up where it wouldn’t interfere with his production and he didn’t have any more excuses, but the whole situation left a bad taste in our mouths. We discovered a couple of months later that he and the church parted ways because he had apparently enhanced his resumé with some information that wasn’t quite true. As shocked as we were, it explained his reaction to the needs of a young deaf man.
Resumé enhancement has become a problem for many businesses, so perhaps it was inevitable that it would work its way into the church. People want to look a little better than they really are to those who don’t know them, so they exaggerate their accomplishments. I was joking with a man at church when he was describing a fish he caught and asked if by the third time he told the story, he was going to dislocate his arms. He laughed and told me that there were too many witnesses to get away with that. They knew him. Paul reminded the Corinthians that they knew him. Among the Corinthians were some who put Paul down, and he reminded them of their relationship. “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.” (2 Corinthians 3:1-2)
He had dealt with the problem of his status as an apostle to some degree in his first letter, but some of the Corinthians were still grumbling about Paul. Paul asked them point blank: “Do I need to show you my resumé? Do I need to give you copies of my letters of recommendation? What could they tell you that you don’t already know from my work among you?” It should have been clear to the people in Corinth that Paul was God’s minister. Maybe the people in the clique that the grumblers belonged to came to Christ after Paul had left, but they could have checked with other groups in the church. Other groups in the church, who had come to Christ because of Paul’s work, should have spoken up with people started bad mouthing him. Instead, Paul had to remind the Corinthians that any evidence they needed about his relationship with God and his commitment to Christ and to the Corinthians was easy to find by looking around the church.
Do people know you at church? Is so, what’s your reputation there? Are you the kind of person that everyone knows in the church because of your works of service? Because of your sense of self-importance (that wouldn’t be good, would it)? Are you recognized because you teach the Bible with love and sincerity? Are you one that many people might not recognize as a member because you slip in the back after the service starts and slip out before the final prayer? The example of Paul reminds us that we should be known for our service in the church. Our only resumé that has any importance in this world is how we are seen by others in our relationship with Christ. That begins with God’s people in the church and it extends to a world that should testify that whether or not they believe, they know that you believe and show them the love and grace of Jesus in your words and deeds.
Oh Lord, there are so many people that need to know Your love and grace. Let my faith be genuine and let others come to know You because they see my commitment to You and Your love and grace in me.