2 Cor.3:1,2 – Are we beginning to sound like those who speak highly of themselves? Do you really need letters of recommendation to validate our ministry, like others do? Do we really need your letter of endorsement? Of course not! For your very lives are our “letters of recommendation,” permanently engraved on our hearts, recognized and read by everybody.
How can you judge the legitimacy of a ministry? Is it the buildings they have built? Or could it be the size of the following that they claim or actually have? Or maybe it is the financial power or political influence they wield. No, that’s not what Jesus said. He said you judge a tree by its fruit. The fruit He was talking about were known by the aforementioned indicators. He was talking about human lives that have been impacted by that ministry. That was what Paul was getting at. He said he needed no recommendation letter, even from the church in Jerusalem. Paul’s letters were human lives. He said the proof of his ministry was the Corinthians themselves, they were his letters of recommendation. Here is how William Barclay describes this passage.
“There is a great truth here, which is at once an inspiration and an awful warning–every man is an open letter for Jesus Christ. Every Christian, whether he likes it or not, is an advertisement for Christianity. The honor of Christ is in the hands of his followers. We judge a shopkeeper by the kind of goods he sells; we judge a craftsman by the kind of articles he produces; we judge a Church by the kind of men it creates; and therefore men judge Christ by his followers. Dick Sheppard, after years of talking in the open air to people who were outside the Church, declared that he had discovered that “the greatest handicap the Church has is the unsatisfactory lives of professing Christians.” When we go out into the world, we have the awe-inspiring responsibility of being open letters, advertisements, for Christ and his Church.”
I thank the Lord for the men that discipled me in my early years as a Christian. My life and ministry today is a reflection of their lives. So if you really want to know about the validity of a ministry take a good look at the inner circle. There you may find a good read. They will tell the story of what is really going on at that church.