Paul finds himself defending his resume?!!? Here in this letter to one of the largest and most productive of the gentile churches, Paul is responding to the accusations that his apostleship was made up. I am sure Paul was not a patient man. He probably did not suffer fools! He was taught by the Superstar of Rabbi’s. He was the “Rookie of the Year” as a Pharisee. He was literally called to ministry by a risen Savior. Paul traded his wealth, fame and fortune to become a tent making, constantly berated, missionary that was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned.
So, now, in a place where God had literally used him to start to change the world, He is faced with the need to set the record straight. So, Paul, as is his beautiful way, does just that. It is a phrase that should rock our world and guide our everyday life. “You yourselves are all the endorsement we need”…The Greek Phrase literally says the “Letter of us You are, inscribed in the hearts of us! Being known and being read by all men!”
Paul simply did not need an endorsement for several reasons. First, Paul was playing to one audience, The Lord! God our Father knew Paul’s heart and mission! He set him on it, afterall! This man that thrived on the praise and approval of others had been transformed into a humble and focused man clinging to the phrase, “To Live is Christ and to die is gain!”
He mentions Moses’ veil. Moses would leave the tent of meeting after being in God’s presence and would glow with God’s presence. In time, though, the glow would fade, and Moses would be like everyone else. Sound familiar? So, Moses would put on a mask to hide that humanness. Paul said, I simply am not wearing a mask! I am changed from the inside out and this glow is the collection of lives the Father has allowed me to lead back to Him!
We need not put on our “Holy veil”. We are human and sometimes the glow fades. But, if we focus on the mission, the glow becomes the lives we are affecting for Christ! We need no justification, Christ provided that. We are simply playing to an audience of one, God our Father! He has become our sole credential!
We need not fear that we will fail, because the only way to fail is to quit! In 2 Timothy, Paul says it best–“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have kept the faith!” 2 Timothy 4:7-8. And now, the prize awaits us, a crown of righteousness. Paul did not need a letter; he had the affirmation in the lives he touched and, in the Lord, he served! We get to enjoy that same affirmation because of who he was!
God Bless You
3 1-3 Does it sound like we’re patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we’re not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone but carved into human lives—and we publish it.
4-6 We couldn’t be surer of ourselves in this—that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation. We wouldn’t think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn’t written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It’s written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives!
Lifting the Veil
7-8 The Government of Death, its constitution chiseled on stone tablets, had a dazzling inaugural. Moses’ face as he delivered the tablets was so bright that day (even though it would fade soon enough) that the people of Israel could no more look right at him than stare into the sun. How much more dazzling, then, the Government of Living Spirit?
9-11 If the Government of Condemnation was impressive, how about this Government of Affirmation? Bright as that old government was, it would look downright dull alongside this new one. If that makeshift arrangement impressed us, how much more this brightly shining government installed for eternity?
12-15 With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn’t notice that the glory was fading away—and they didn’t notice. They didn’t notice it then and they don’t notice it now, don’t notice that there’s nothing left behind that veil. Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can’t see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there’s nothing there.
16-18 Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.