As I prepare to lead lesson three from the study, “Lord give me a heart for You” based on II Corinthians, I would like to analyze this lesson and explain its amazingly practical truths for daily living in this article.
The apostle Paul was a great missionary, church planter, pastor, and overall leader during the early years of the Christian Church. He had to deal with a lot of stuff on a daily basis, doing things that had never been done before. He did not have a model to follow or even a manual other than the Old Testament and maybe a few of the Gospels. He was taught directly by Jesus Christ which greatly helped him but mostly he depended on the examples of the great leaders of the Old Testament. As a leader, he had to depend completely on God and not his own adequacy. He knew that in himself and his own strength he was inadequate. He explains that in Romans 7. Paul knew that he needed help and he knew exactly where to turn for that help. In order to be adequate in the Lord, there are certain things that we must do and there are certain things that God must do. We know that God will always do His part so it is up to us to do ours.
I. There are several actions on our part that we must avoid because they will keep us from being adequate in our leadership role.
17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. (II Corinthians 2)
If you try to distort the clear teachings of the Word of God to take advantage of the people who follow you, to control them, to manipulate them, then you will not be adequate in your leadership role. There were many leaders during Paul’s day who practiced this method. In fact, coming from the Greek world, there were many master orators who were experts at using language to manipulate others. They just saw Christianity and the teachings of the Bible as another way of manipulation for profit. If you want to be adequate in your service to the Lord as you lead His people then you must lead by the clear teachings of the Scriptures. This will cause you to give all of the glory to Him when success comes your way because you did it his way. There are some who do not want to do this because when success comes, they want all of the glory.
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again ? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men ; 3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. (II Corinthians 3)
If you trust in yourself and boast in your own abilities or live to hear the praises of your followers then you will not be adequate in your service to God as you lead His people. This shows that you trust in yourself and your own abilities instead of allowing the power of God to work in you and through you. This is manifested as a person who feeds off of praise and is ready to praise himself if no one else will do it for him. He is more interested in his glory than in God’s, even though he would never openly admit it. This type of attitude shuts off the flow of God’s power in you and makes you inadequate. Your ministry will suffer sooner or later if this is the type of attitude that you have.
5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit ; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3)
If you try to live by the law instead of under the new covenant through the power of the Holy Spirit then you will be inadequate as a servant of the Lord as you attempt to lead His people. The purpose of the law was/is to show us what sin is and then point us to Christ. The law is not enough because it cannot help us deal with our sin nature. Romans chapter 7 teaches us that the law draws a line in the sand and says, “Do not cross that line.” Immediately our sin nature kicks in and pulls us up to the line and forces us to step over it. How is this manifested today? Just like it was back then. The Sadducees and Pharisees could not keep the Law and they knew it so instead, they just made up their own list of do’s and don’ts and tried to follow them, ignoring the laws of God. They became smug, self-righteous people putting everyone else down in order to lift themselves up. If you try to lead people by the law instead of the New Covenant then you will end up with your own list of do’s and don’ts and you will set aside the Word of God and end up being smug and self-righteous. The people whom you lead will not live by grace being led by the Spirit of God. They will be led to the burdens of self-righteousness which ultimately lead to death.
II. We must entrust our lives in the hands of God through Christ if we want to be adequate in our service to Him as we lead His people.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing ; (II Corinthians 2)
There are a few awesome word pictures expressed in these few verses. As leaders we are guaranteed to be adequate in our service to the Lord by leading His people who follow us. The word that is translated “triumph” in English is the Greek word “Thriambeuo” and it means a victory procession. When a general would enter Rome after great victories, he would lead a parade of the spoils of war. He would be carried in his own personal chariot. The beauty of this word picture is that when we are in Jesus Christ, we are leading the parade from the general’s chariot. God is the One who puts us there and leads the way. We benefit. We are guaranteed to be adequate no matter what happens around us. Paul understood this and that is why he was such a powerful minister for the Lord, that is why he was able to impact so many people for the Gospel. When a leader lives this way, he becomes a fragrant aroma of the knowledge of Jesus Christ everywhere that he goes. All the people around him know that Jesus Christ is in Him and that he is a servant of Christ. It seeps out of his pores. I am reminded of a situation in where my mentor demonstrated these verse to me, even though he was not intentionally trying to teach me. He was being a witness for Christ. We were at a restaurant in the States and as we ordered and were talking, he began to discuss with the waiter. There was a huge portrait on the wall and Vasile asked who the man was in the picture. He was a famous king from the Orient who set some slaves free. Vasile went on to explain to the man about another King who frees man from his slavery to sin, Jesus Christ. That waiter left and another came so Vasile immediately began to explain that he knew who that famous king in the picture was and wanted to share with him about another King who frees man from slavery. This was the second waiter to hear the Gospel during the night. The other patrons also listened carefully to the conversation. After that, another waiter came so Vaile asked the man what his name was and what it meant. The man did not know. Vasile went on to explain the meaning of his name and his wife’s name. Vasile’s wife’s name is Anastasia which means “resurrection”. He went on to explain that because of Christ we know that we will experience a resurrection. At the end of the night, pretty much the entire staff had heard the Gospel. It was amazing. I understood verses 15 and 16 clearly after that teaching session. I went home that night to research the meaning of my name (as did everyone in our group other than Vasile and Anastasia). What about you, are you a fragrant aroma of Christ everywhere that you go?
As we previously saw, in II Corinthians 3 teaches that a person who is adequate, is that way because he is led by the Spirit of God and is under the New Covenant. He leads the people to the New Covenant and teaches them how to live by the Spirit. Paul teaches this principle in Romans 8. He teaches the people how to live a righteous lifestyle which glorifies God. You glorify God and you teach the people to do the same. As their lives are transformed, they do not praise you, they praise God. A person who is adequate is constantly being changed by God to be more like God. He teaches the people to do the same.
III. Our adequacy equips us for day to life.
I will just give some bullet points on this section.
- He is not afraid to confront others according to the Word of God, for their own good (2:3)
- He confronts to build up (2:2)
- He is ready to forgive (2:10)
- He is not controlled by his emotions (2:2)
- He does not give Satan an opportunity (2:11)
- He is plans for future ministry
- He is preoccupied with the needs of others (2:13)
- He share Christ everywhere he goes (2:14)
- He does not peddle the Word of God (2:17)
- He has a pure heart and pure motives in all he does (2:17)
- He speaks on God’s behalf, sharing God’s Word with the people (2:17)
- He does not praise himself (3:1)
- He does not seek the praise of others (3:1)
- He does not seek positions
- He receives his leadership positions from the Lord
- He is not seeking to make a name for himself
- His results in the ministry speak for themselves
- He is not ashamed to serve and not afraid of losing his adequacy (3:12)
- He does not lose heart as he serves the Lord (4:1)
- He does not practice shameful deeds such as being crafty (manipulating) or adulterating the Word of God (4:2)
- He manifests the truth of God with a clear conscience (4:2)
- He does not preach himself, he preaches Jesus Christ (4:5)
- He is a bond-servant of Christ.
- He does not back down in the face of obstacles (4:8-11)
- His inner man is renewed on a daily basis (4:16)
- He works for the eternal things and not the temporal (4:18)