2 Corinthians 3:1-3
Jesus once said, “…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit…by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:17–20) Just like a good banana tree produces good bananas and a good mango tree produces good mangoes, a good follower of Christ produces other good disciples/followers of Christ. As a matter of fact, this is the main purpose for our new and improved self in Christ; to make other believers and followers of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17–20) They are your letter of recommendation before other Christians. Paul talks about that in 2 Corinthians 3:1–3.
The accusation of insincerity and duplicity tagged to Paul was still in his mind. He began his response to this objection with two questions to which he expected negative answers. It seemed like Paul’s opponents saw his joy in the ministry of the gospel as another example of his arrogance. Was his credibility so low that, after all the hard work and godly advice he gave, he now needed to bring a letter of recommendation to this people?
Unknown Christians in the early church carried letters of recommendation to congregations that did not know them (Acts 18:27) but did Paul need to be introduced to this Church? Did he need a letter of recommendation? No!!! He actually had letters of recommendation: the Corinthian Christians themselves. Their new lives in Christ and the changes that had taken place in their hearts proved the effectiveness and divine approval of Paul’s ministry. They were Paul’s letters of recommendation!
Your behavior, your speech and your attitude may be much better since you came to Christ (and that’s great) but is that enough? Jesus said, “…let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16) so all this is good but where are your letters of recommendation as an effective follower of Christ? Can you name a few people that have crossed your life on their way to eternal separation from God and you led them to Christ, changing their destiny? Where are your fruits?
The brethren in Corinth showed the result of Paul’s ministry through the faithful exercise of their spiritual gifts. Remember that this church was a mess; people abusing some spiritual gifts and neglecting others especially agape love. Apparently, there was great improvement in this area as a result of Paul and his team’s ministry to them. Their new more spiritually diligent lives became a letter from Christ validating Paul’s ministry.
John wrote to his friend Gaius and said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4) What was John doing here? He was expressing his great joy for the fact that those who he ministered to where following the truth; God’s words and ways. Those who he and others led to Christ were faithfully following God’s word and exercising God’s spiritual gifts for God’ glory and honor.
Can you identify a few people around you that have walked this Christian journey with you and are better for it? Someone who have been led by you to be faithful in following God’s word and exercising their giftedness in serving others?
You are the aroma of life to those who are finding salvation from the penalty of sin and eternal life with God only if you are leading others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. You are the aroma of death to those who are rejecting God’s free offer of salvation and eternal life through faith in Christ only if you are actually sharing the gospel. Your changed life is not the only sign of a new life in Christ. Those who have been saved through your faithful sharing of the gospel are your letters of recommendation before the rest of the Christian family. Those who are growing in the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ because of your involvement in their lives are your letters of recommendation before the rest of the Christian family.
How are you doing in these areas of your Christian journey on this side of eternity? Where are your fruits?