For anyone who has even a casual knowledge of New Testament Scripture, the name Paul is virtually synonymous with the inspired record. From his salvation experience on the Damascus Road (Acts 9) through the remaining chapters addressing the historical narrative of the early New Testament Church, the dominant spiritual leader is Paul (Acts 13-28). Thirteen (13) books (excluding Hebrews) of the twenty-seven (27) in the New Testament are credited to him. From his scholarly apologetic of salvation by faith in Romans to the personal letter of thanks to the believers at Philippi, Paul offers insight and understanding that relate to the current generation, just as it did to individuals and communities of faith in the first century. Three (3) missionary journeys, repeated persecution of various degrees and duration, including prison on several occasions. His singularly focused life provides an excellent role model for us to emulate (Philippians 3:3-14).
However, in the minds of many Jewish religious leaders, Paul did not qualify as a true “apostle” for a variety of reasons (a subject for another discussion). Consequently, to counter these verbal attacks, he found it necessary to explain/defend his dramatic encounter with Christ and the specific “call” that had been given him. He certainly had the evidence to vindicate his ministry. A pattern of authentic Apostleship. But for all these ministry credentials he could have used to promote himself, Paul refused to assume any credit or authority in himself.
His words are both powerful and relevant for those who serve this generation as spiritual leaders. “Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or to count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God. [It is He] Who has qualified us [making us fit and worthy and sufficient] as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ]…” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, AMP, emphasis mine).
Notice the repetition of the words “qualified” and “ability”. It is at this specific point if we (erroneously) assume that we are qualified–through whatever resources– or have the personal ability–charismatic personality, oratorical expertise– that we are in danger of falling into the trap of self-reliance or, even worse, destructive pride.
I have long since believed that our GREATEST temptations come at the point of our strength, rather than the point of our weakness. In my weakness, I am keenly aware of my need to depend on supernatural power and guidance. When I think I can I cease to rely only on the sufficiency of God.
Extreme challenges confront men and women who are spiritual leaders in these end times. Simply stated, we are sufficient in HIS sufficiency.
Never lose the sense of unworthiness that grace has been extended to you.
Never lose the wonder that God chose you as one of His spokespersons.
Never lose the keen awareness of your inability to fulfill the unique assignment He has given you.
Never lose the joy of knowing that you represent the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Contend for the faith–Jesus is coming soon!
H Maurice Lednicky