Verse of the Day Devotion 2 Corinthians 3:4
“And such confidence we have through Christ toward God.” – 2 Corinthians 3:4
Paul here is asking the Church in Corinth a question regarding his and his helpers perception of themselves. “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?” 2 Corinthians 2:3:1. These are ironical questions, for he follows with “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known, and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3. He was telling them he needed no letters from them, for his apostolic ministry is not legitimized by their judgement, but in them and their faith. And this has it’s boast In God’s work in and through Christ. This has nothing to do with what Paul has done, but what God through Christ has done through him. And these were not written on tablets of stone as the Law was, but was written on their hearts by the Spirit of God.
And per our focus verse, he is incredibly confident in the work that has been accomplished not because of what he has done, but what has been done through him for it was Christ whom he served and under whose influence he accomplished everything he did; and it was therefore through Christ that he had such confidence in what he could do. He had this confidence, he says, towards God and not before God; not as a matter which was right in God’s sight, but by the direction of, or in respect to God the Author of the work and the One to whom all the glory were due. For he says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6.
Paul said a very similar thing in his first letter to the Church in Corinth when he wrote. “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” 1 Corinthians 15:9-11. Paul in these verses was showing humility regarding the work accomplished through him by God. He did not see himself as worthy to be used by God, but because of the incredible grace God bestowed on him, he labored hard and gave all he had. But again, not by his work, but God’s work done through him.
We must always remember that it is not us who does the work, but it is God. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13. According to Bill Mounce, a Greek scholar, the idea of ‘working out your salvation’ is to put it into operation, to be active in the work of God. But again, Paul says “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. He is the one who does the work through us. And it is by His work being fulfilled through us that we have confidence in what we are doing. We should not be pleased with the work we do, but with the work He does through us. Therefore, let us give thanks to God that we can be confident in His grace such that He chose to use us to fulfil His work on this earth.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.