2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
The thing that strikes me most about this is how Paul is placing himself in exactly the same place as those to whom he is writing. Actually, he does that in several of his letters. He was aware that he was an apostle sent by God, but that was just a job description. The thing is, we often evaluate people on the basis of their jobs, or even of their job titles. That’s why some people put Bishop or Prophet or Apostle on their business cards, without any part of the Body of Christ having recognized them as operating in those ministries. It is generally wise to steer clear of such people. Jesus said clearly that we will recognize people by the fruit they bear. The second thing that stands out to me in this passage is that it is the Holy Spirit who marks us as God’s property, a foretaste of all the glory that awaits us in heaven. In some denominations the Holy Spirit is presented almost as an option, whereas in others, spiritual gifts are seen as merit badges. Both are sadly mistaken, and they have fostered some bitter disputes between brothers and sisters in Christ. The Holy Spirit is an essential part of salvation, but His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) is a far better indicator of His presence than any “spiritual gift.” Those two things together form a clear guide as to how we should live as believers.
Naturally this applies as much to me as it does to anyone else. People consider me a missionary, and I do call myself one at times, but missionaries today generally have a sending body: a denomination, a para-church organization, or even a local congregation. We don’t have any of those things, so I often say I’m just a Caucasian pastor in Japan. I am aware that God has given me responsibility and spiritual authority in various areas, but those aren’t things to trumpet, but rather to discharge with the faithfulness that can only come from Him. I am just as much in need of the grace and mercy of God as anyone else, if not more so. (James 3:1) My current hospital stay is one more reminder of that.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for enabling me to type despite the condition of my left hand. Thank you for the care I have received and that the pain is gradually diminishing. I pray that Your healing would proceed on Your schedule and that everyone affected by my injury would learn and gain from it exactly what You intend, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!