Have you ever been in a conflict so deep with someone that you started to wonder if you were ever going to be “enough” for them?
Maybe it was your boss. Perhaps it was a parent. More often than we’d like to admit, it’s a spouse or one of our children.
For Paul the apostle, his conflict with the Corinthians — his “spiritual children” — could have produced such thinking. He had received a report that they were unhappy with him because of his change of travel plans.
Some of that unhappiness may well have been the result of some the things Paul had said to them in his first letter. Perhaps they were still stinging a bit, because he had been pretty firm and direct with them. There were sin issues that needed to get cleaned up in the Corinthian congregation.
As we read the first three chapters of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we can tell Paul is responding to these reports of the Corinthians’ unhappiness with him. It appears they were questioning both Paul’s sincerity and his competence.
For many of us, to have a whole congregation of people question our intentions and abilities would rock us — perhaps even rock us to the core. But not so with Paul. He remains steady and resolute. He is firm and solid in his identity and purpose.
From his words, we can see Paul knows what he is doing. More importantly, he is confident in why he is doing it. And most vital of all, he is certain of Who he is doing it for.
That gives him the ability to know where to locate all he needs to complete his mission. The same Jesus who has called him to the work of ministering to the Corinthians will also supply him with the confidence and competence he needs to carry out his work with joy and excellence. This keeps the apostle resilient in the face of the doubts of others.
When you feel insufficient for the task, when you sense your confidence being shaken by the opinions of those around you, you can do the same. Focus on an “audience of One”. Concentrate on Jesus and his faithful love for you. All proper confidence, and all necessary competence, come from him!
With Jesus not just pouring himself out for you, but also pouring himself into you, you are always enough! Like Paul, you can stand confident and competent.
“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” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, NIV).
Lord, there are so many times when I do not feel as if I am enough. Help me to know that because you are sufficient as my Savior and Redeemer, I am now sufficient to live out your purpose for my life. Whatever roles I may occupy to serve your kingdom to your glory, help me to be certain that my confidence and my competence come from you alone.
Our Bible reading for Saturday, August 29, is 2 Chronicles 33:21 – 35:19, 2 Corinthians 2:12 – 3:6 and Psalm 104:1-18.