Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God. ?
2 Corinthians 3:4-5
Theologian David Upshaw calls it “apostolic swagger”. That’s the confidence, the boldness, the courage with which the early Christians moved out across the world. Armed with the secret to human history and the keys of the kingdom, they went at life with astonishing confidence: God-confidence. In Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians he puts his finger on how to live with confidence.
It seems everyone today wants to find confidence. Pick up any self-help book, turn on the TV, browse through a magazine and you will find tips on how to be a confident person. The message is pretty much the same: confidence comes from within. Find your confidence, claim it and use it.
Saul of Tarsus turned apostle Paul knows that he needs confidence for what he’s called to do. But he doesn’t look to drum up confidence from within. He has God-confidence: “Such is the confidence that we have through Chris toward God.” Paul then explains; “our competence comes from God.” Paul’s swagger and confidence comes from God’s power and ability.
In this section of 2 Corinthians Paul remembers how the Gospel was proclaimed to the Corinthians, and how they flourished in the faith. But Paul knows whatever was accomplished among the Corinthians was not his work, but God’s. The Good News Translation of today’s text catches the gist of Paul’s thought: “There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work. The capacity we have comes from God.”
Paul wants no Christian to ever confuse the confidence with which he lives with a confidence that comes from self. Paul reminds us that his effectiveness comes only from the power of the risen Christ at work in him. Paul will never say, “Look at what I’ve done”, but only, “To God be the glory!”
Page through the Book of Acts or any of Paul’s letters and it becomes apparent that Paul never thought himself competent for any task he was called to do. He knew that His competence came only from God. Although he was very conscious of his weakness (See 2 Corinthians 2:1-4), he boldly went about his work. He lived each day drawing on the sufficiency of God. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). “For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires in me” (Colossians 1:29). “It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20a).
God quite often calls us to do things that we do not feel competent to do. If we do only those things that we feel competent to do, then we miss out on the wonder of what God is doing in the world. “God’s callings are his enablings!” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
How do you sense God calling you to do something that you do not feel competent to do? Where do you sense God leading that you fear to follow? Put on the apostolic swagger and boldly go where you have never gone before!
Grace and peace,