April 6: A Letter of Recommendation
Deuteronomy 9:1–10:22; 2 Corinthians 3:1–8; Psalm 35:1–11
We file letters of recommendation from pastors, past supervisors, and teachers that highlight our skills, attitude, and work ethic. They present us as ideal candidates, glossing over the things we lack and the ways in which we’ve failed. But Paul’s letter of recommendation tells another story:
“You are our letter, inscribed on our hearts, known and read by all people, revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, inscribed not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:2–3).
Paul saw the work God was doing in the lives of the Corinthians. Through the work of the Spirit, they were drawn together as a community. Their response to the gospel testified that Paul was fulfilling the task that he was called to do.
But Paul doesn’t stay focused on himself in this passage. He switches the focus to the Spirit: “Now we possess such confidence through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor 3:4–5). Ultimately, Paul’s confidence finds itself in Christ’s work and the life-giving work of the Spirit.
Our successes and failures are put into a proper context when we read Paul’s message. All the good we do attests to the Spirit’s work in our lives; it is a testimony of a life redeemed by Christ. And the bad isn’t glossed over by God—it is paid for. It’s His letter of recommendation that really matters, for He knows who we really are.
How are you living a life that attests to God’s power in you, not your own qualities or traits?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Hear, O Israel, Thou shalt pass over Jordan this day, to go in and to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, and cities great and welled up to heaven, A people great and tall, eveni the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak? Understand therefore that this day the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee as a consuming fire: he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so thou shalt cast them out and destroy them suddenly, as the Lord hath said unto thee. Speak not thou in thine heart (after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out before thee) saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in, to poassess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations, the Lord hath cast them out before thee. For thou entrust not to inherit their land for thy righteousness, or for their upright heart, but for the wickedness of those nations, the Lord thy God doth cast them out before thee, and that he might perform the word which the Lord thy God sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness: for thou art a stiff-necked people. Remember and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to anger in the wilderness: since the day that thou didst appear out of the land of Egypt, until ye came into this place, ye have rebelled against the Lord. Also in Horeb ye provoked the Lord to anger, so that the Lord was wroth with yo, even to destroy you. When I was gone up into the mount, to receive the Tables of stone, the Tables, I say, of the Covenant, which the Lord made with you: and I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, and I neither ate bread nor yet drank water: Then the Lord delivered me two tables of stone, written with the finger of God, and in them was contained according to all the words which the Lord had said unto you in the mount of the midst of the fire, in the day of the assembly. And when the forty days and forty nights were ended, the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, the tables, I say, of the covenant. And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence: for thy people which thou hast brought out of the Egypt, have corrupt their ways: they are soon turned out of hte way which I commanded them, they have made them a molten image. Furthermore the Lord spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and put out their name from under heaven, and I will make of thee a mighty nation and greater than they be. So I returned, and came down from the mount (and the mount burnt with fire, and the two Tables of the Covenant were in my two hands.) Then I looked, and behold, ye had sinned agaisnt the Lord your God: for ye had made you a molten calf, and had turned quickly out of the way which the Lord had commanded you. Therefore I took the two Tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes. And I fell down before the Lord, forty days, and forty nights, as before: I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sins which ye had committed, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, in that he provoked him unto wrath. (For I was afraid of the wrath and indignation, wherewith the Lord was moved against you, even to destroy you) yet the Lord heard me at that time also. Likewise the Lord was very angry with Aaron, even to destroy him: but at that time I prayed also for Aaron. And I took your sin, I mean the calf which ye had made, and burnt him with fire, and stamped him and ground him small, even unto very dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the river, that descended out of the mount. Also in Taberah, and in Massah, and in Kibroth Hattaavah ye provoked the Lord to anger. Likewise when the Lord sent you from Kadesh Barnea, saying, Go up, and possess the land which I have given you, then ye rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God, and believed in him not, nor hearkened unto his voice. Ye have been rebellious unto the Lord, since the day that I knew you. Then I fell down before the Lord forty das, and forty nights, as I fell down before, because the Lord had said that he would destroy you. And I prayed unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, whom thou hast brought out of Egypt by a mighty hand. Remember thy servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: look not to the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin, Lest the country whence thou broughtest them, say, Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, or because he hated them, he carried them to slay them in the wilderness. Yet they are thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out of thy mighty power, and by thy stretched out arm. In the same tie the Lord said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an Ark of wood, And I will write upon the tables, the words that were upon the first Tables, which thou breakest, and thou shalt put them in the Ark. And I made an Ark of Shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mountain, and the two Tables in mine hand. Then he wrote upon the Tables according to the first writing, (the ten commandments, which the Lord spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire, in the day of the assembly) and the Lord gave them unto me. And I departed and came down from the Mount, and put the Tables in the Ark which I had made: and there they be, as the Lord commanded me. And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan, to Moserah, where Aaron died, and was buried, and Eleazar his son became Priest in his stad. From thence they departed unto Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of running waters. The same time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, and to stand before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless in his Name unto this day. Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren: for the Lord is his inheritance, as the Lord thy God hath promised him. And I tarried in the mount, as at the first time, forty days and forty nights, and the Lord heard me at that time also, and the Lord would not destroy thee. But the Lord sais unto me, Arise, go forth in the journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give unto them. And now, Israel, ,what doeth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his was, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul? That thou keep the commandments of the Lord and his ordinance, which I command thee this day, for thy wealth? Behold, heaven, and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, and the earth, with all that therein is. Notwithstanding, the Lord set his delight in thy fathers to love them, and did chooose their seed after them, even you above all people, as appeareth this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and harden your necks no more. For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, mighty and terrible, which accepteth no persons, nor taketh reward. Who doeth right unto the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the Lor thy God: thou shalt serve him and thou shalt cleave unto him, and shalt swear by his Name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen. Thy fathers went down into Egypt with seventy person, and now the Lord thy God hath made them as the stars of the heaven in multitude. Deuteronomy 9:1–10:22
- Do we begin to praise ourselves again? or need we as some others, Epistles of recommendation unto you, or letters of recommendation from you? Ye ar our epistle, writtenin our hearts, which is understood and read of all men, In that ye are manifest, to be the Epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in tables of stones, but in fleshly tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think anything, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God, Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. If then the ministration of death written with letters and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance (which glory is gone away.) How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be more glorious? 2 Corinthians 3:1–8
- Plead thou my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight thou against them that fight against me. Lay hand upon the shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. Bring out also the spear, and stop the way agains them that persecute me, say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. Let them be confounded and put to shame, that seek after my soul: le them be turned back, and brought to confusion, that imagine mine hurt. Let them be as chaff before the wind, and let the Angel of the Lord scatter them. Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the Angel of the Lord persecute them. For without cause they have hid the pit and their net for me: without cause have they dug a pit for my soul. Let destruction come upon him at unawares, and let his net, that he hath laid privily, take him: let him fall into the same destruction. Then my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation. All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him, that is too strong for him! yea, the poor and him that is in misery, from him that spoileth him! Cruel witnesses did rise up: they asked of me things that I knew not. They rewarded me evil for good, to have spoiled my soul. Yet I, when they were sick, I was clothed with a sack: I humbled my soul with fasting: and my prayer was turned upon my bosom, I behaved myself as to my friend, or as to my brother: I humbled myself, mourning as one that bewaileth his mother. But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: the abjects assembled themselves against me, and I knew not: they tare me, and ceased not, With the flase scoffers at banquets, gnashing their teeth against me. Lord, how long wilt thou behold this? deliver my soul from their tumult, even my desolate soul from the lions. So will I give thee thanks in a great Congregation: I will praise thee among much people. Let not them that are mine enemies unjustly rejoice over me, neither let them wink with the eye, that hate me without a cause. For they speak not as friends: but they imagine deceitful words against the quiet of the land. And they gaped on me with their mouths, saying, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen. Thou hast seen it, O Lord: keep not silence: be not far from me, O Lord. Arise and wake to my judgment, even to my cause, my God, and my Lord. Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me. Let them not say in their hearts, O our soul rejoice: neither let them say, We have devoured him. Le tthem be confounded, and put to shame together, that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with confusion and shame, that lift up themselves against me. But let them be joyful and glad, that love my righteousness, yea, let them say always, Let the Lord be magnified, which loveth the prosperity of his servant, And my tongue shall utter thy righteousness, and thy praise every day. Psalm 35:1–11