What is more important: what we say or what we do? As the saying goes, “Our lives are the only sermon some people will ever hear.” And we’ve all felt at times like the person who commented, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one.”
That point is also made in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. The truths and consequences of God’s Word should be seen in our lives. Paul said the Corinthians themselves were proof of his apostleship. No false teacher could have brought about such gospel-affirming and God-glorifying results.
The Corinthian church was like a letter of recommendation. I write many such letters to assist my students in obtaining jobs or ministry positions or entrance to graduate school. In Paul’s day, itinerant teachers used these kinds of letters for identification or authentication, in much the same way that Paul used his own handwriting at the end of a letter so that the recipients could be sure it really came from him (Gal. 6:11).
Paul didn’t need to bring reference letters to the Corinthians because he already had a close relationship with them. They themselves were the “letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone” (v. 2). They could testify from their own experience about his apostolic ministry and his unselfish pursuit of God’s glory, especially compared to other traveling teachers who solicited money much more forcefully. By contrast, Paul was satisfied to see their transformed lives and the fruit they were bearing for the kingdom of God.
Best of all, the Corinthians were a “letter from Christ” Himself (v. 3; see also Deut. 6:1–9). The tablets (paper) were human hearts. The (eternal) ink was the Holy Spirit. May God do the same with our lives!
>> Did you know that you are a “letter” to the world? Or to put it another way, what you believe and value is on display to your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. What message are you sending?
Lord, the longer we know You the better we understand that any good that comes of our words or actions is purely from You. In Your grace, use our lives to reveal Your love, goodness, and holiness to those around us.