“1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, 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 3:1-3
Have you ever had to write a letter of recommendation for someone or had one written for you?
In this passage the Corinthians are requesting a letter of recommendation from higher up disciples to prove that Paul is doing the work of the Lord. Paul explains to the Corinthians that their life should be his recommendation letter, a confirmation of his teaching.
Imagine if your life was a letter, open to anyone to read, and when they read it they would know exactly who you are, what you stand for, your convictions, your beliefs, your faith or the lack of. Paul is saying our life is a letter written on our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How we live confirms the message of the gospel. It’s a way for others to see and understand why we dedicate our time, money, and energy into church, ministry, mission work, church camps and much more. When we face the king on judgment day we will not be getting a letter of recommendation from our pastors or parents saying why we should be in the kingdom. Instead Jesus will read the letter of our hearts and our life.
If our life is a letter open to the world to read what do you want people to read? What kind of letter are you going to allow the spirit to write upon your hearts? And will you choose to follow it?
Society is filled with people who have no forgiveness. We judge, ridicule and try to come up with the next sarcastic zinger to roast someone. Escalation of situations that could have been resolved in their infancy are full blown Hatfield and McCoy level feuds because people did not possess the unceasing ability of Jesus to forgive. Jesus was able to forgive even in the midst of extreme situations like being on the cross:
Luke 23:34 NIV Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Jesus found the strength to forgive even though he had been mercilessly mocked, beaten and ultimately murdered! Meanwhile we struggle to forgive people for minor infractions like not liking our outfit, or denying the fact that we are the greatest spike ball player on the planet. Seeing how Jesus was able to forgive his persecutors who had done much more to him than anyone else has experienced convicts us as Christians to be able to forgive others who have wronged us regardless of our situations because Jesus was able to forgive in situations worse than us.
Pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith, we know what these are and how to achieve them but a better way to see this is through Jesus Christ. He constantly showed God’s love through his actions, by caring for those you wouldn’t expect him to. He was the son of God and he humbled himself to all around him, to show that we are here to serve. By following Jesus’s example in serving and loving others we can do good, and have a positive impact in the world around us.
In 1 Timothy 1:5 it says we must love with a sincere faith, which I think means an enduring faith. Our faith is going to be tested, which makes it stronger. In 1 Peter 1:7 it refers to our faith as more precious than gold, which is perishable. The word perishable makes me think of an apple, something that rots quickly and isn’t that important, but gold, that was a form of currency, very important. Also gold isn’t naturally perishable, nothing organic can destroy it, and chemical compounds cannot fully destroy gold. But compared to our faith, gold is meaningless and perishable. 1 Peter 1:7 also says our faith will be tested by fire. To have a strong faith we must go through hardships so we can come out stronger, and by keeping God’s word with us, we can make it through these struggles and have an enduring faith.
Back again to 1 Timothy 1:5…it also states that we must have a good conscience, but what is that? In Hebrews 13:18 it says that the people are desiring to conduct themselves honorably in all things. The word desire is very specific in this verse, desire means a want or a wish, this shows since they wish to do it, there can be another option. We have to choose God, he gave us free will to do so. If he had wanted people who worshiped him because there was no other option he could have made that happen, but he wanted us. People who could have a choice and still choose him. But sometimes we do mess up, but we have a second chance, and a third chance, and fourth, and on and on again. In 1 John 1:9 it says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us. God gave us a choice, and even when we mess up, he gives us a way out. A good conscience is the desire to do God’s will, and when we mess up ask for forgiveness and repent.
In 1 Timothy 1:5, it talks about living with a pure heart, but what is a pure heart. In Psalm 24:4-5 it says a pure heart is someone who has not sworn deceitfully, or worshiped false gods. Psalm 119:9 says by keeping God’s word, you can have a pure heart. And 2 Timothy 2:22 says you must flee from your worldly desires and chase after God’s word. Overall to have a pure heart we must worship God only, Follow His words and turn from the world and to him. This may seem like a lot but we are constantly doing this, we are on the path to a pure heart.
There have been times when I have wondered what God wants me to do, not in a big way, but smaller, things I can do daily. So when I went through the quiz material from this summer 1 Timothy 1:5 quickly became my favorite verse. “But the goal of our instruction is love, from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”- 1 Tim. 1:5
Paul wrote this when he was instructing Timothy on how to run the church, and it applies to us. We have a goal, to love, and we can do this everyday. When we are loving to others it shows God’s love through us.