Daily D – 2 Corinthians 3:5
It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. 2 CORINTHIANS 3:5 (NLT)
Have you ever been asked to do a job you were not qualified for? Most of us can think of a time or two when this has been true. For example, I was asked to lead a hymn in church one time. The two most important words in the last sentence are ONE TIME. That is all it took to never be asked to do it again. My first-grade teacher, Miss Allen, was correct when she diagnosed my vocal inabilities. She said, “David, you sing like a bug in a jug.”
On another occasion, I was the new pastor of a small church in a small town in the middle of nowhere. The telephone rang one night when I was blissfully, deeply sleeping. Someone had died at home and I needed to go see the family. This is somewhat routine for pastors, but it was the first time I had been called upon for such a duty.
It was also a family I could not remember meeting. Then there was the issue of finding the right trailer house on the right country road in the middle of the night in a county where more illegal drugs were manufactured than any other county in the State of Texas. Also, everyone who lived in places like that had a dog, a big dog, a dog who loved eating preachers for midnight snacks. This, I learned, is why country preachers carry large, black Bibles with them when they make home visits.
The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) uses the word competent where the New Living Translation (NLT) says qualified. The English Standard Version (ESV) says sufficient. Here is an important truth for us to take to heart: When God places us in a situation where we are consciously incompetent, meaning we know what we do not know, we can lean on him for competency, qualification, sufficiency. Mark 13:11 is instructive in such cases. It says, “do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
When we live on mission, when we are on mission in the middle of the moment, when we do not know what to say, the Holy Spirit will give us the words.
Caveat: This is not an excuse for poor preparation. Prepare well. Prepare remotely. This means learning something new every day even though it may not have anything to do with what you are working on at the moment. Prepare immediately. This means learning what you need to know when you need to know it. It is amazing how God can use a full mind better than an empty one.
Where God guides, God provides. This is as true regarding what to say and do in those moments when we are caught unprepared as it is in every other area of existence.
I led another song in worship a couple of years ago. It was a contemporary song everyone in the room knew. It was also playing on the speaker we were using for background music. Here’s the trick that made it work. I turned up the speaker really loud.
That night in that trailer house where I knew only one living soul, another preacher who left as soon as I arrived, I found my way to the room where the matriarch of the clan was sitting rocking slowly back and forth in her chair. The whole family was gathered in the room with her. Everyone stood. No one said a word. No one moved.
I knelt by her chair and asked, “How may I serve you?” It was all I could think to say. It was all I needed to say. A few minutes later, I prayed for her and her gathered family. Then I stepped back out into the night and made my way home.
Competency, qualification, and sufficiency are details our Father in heaven provides when we lean on him. They cannot be conferred by individuals or institutions. No matter the educational attainments, no matter the years of experience, when it comes to serving others in Jesus’ name, we only do it right when we depend on God to provide what we cannot.
Have you ever wondered why someone with qualifications as long as your arm cannot seem to say or do anything worth remembering? Maybe it is because God can only fill an empty vessel. Those who are already full, who are sufficient in themselves, have no room for his greater sufficiency. As a person with several degrees and certifications to his name, I need to keep this in mind. People need more of Jesus and less of me, just like John the Baptist said (John 3:30).
I will depend on God for qualifications I cannot earn.
Our Father, may people see more of Jesus and less of me. He must become greater and greater. I must become less and less. Amen.
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John 7:3, 4 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples can see your works that you are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (CSB)
Psalm 9:9, 10 The LORD is a refuge for the persecuted, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you because you have not abandoned those who seek you, LORD. (CSB)