From time to time I have the honor of giving recommendations for people who need either a character reference or referencing something for a particular job, or even for those seeking to adopt a child. In giving that reference or recommendation it is important to know the person’s moral compass, and to know a little of what makes them tick. I can only do that by spending time with them, usually in the trenches of ministry, where true character usually comes out. When I put my name on a reference sheet I take seriously how I am representing that person and want to give an account of what I see in their life. I try to remember how they responded to things that were trying and if they handled them with integrity and wisdom. I also try to make, as best as I can, a judgment call on where their commitment is and if it lasting and true. That is a very tricky thing to deal with, in that it becomes very difficult to realize and know a person’s heart about anything.
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, was commending them for their service to the Lord and basically giving a reference for them in the area of ministry. Paul was very precise in wanting to make sure that any commendations given were because of the manifestation of the Spirit of God in those believer’s hearts and lives. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 records it like this 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.
The things of God are very heart-centered and any changes God makes in a person’s heart are eternal and written on their heart. Nothing written on paper about a person will ever outshine the heart change that God makes for a person, who is a newly changed individual. The scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:17 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. is realized just two chapters later in this letter sent by Paul to this great church that had a troubled past. Paul’s affirmation of God moving in people’s heart was a reference to what God had done for these believers in the midst of a very tumultuous church life. Further on in chapter 3 Paul reminds these believers that those who were still unchanged in their desire to follow the Law had a veil over their eyes. Those people were not free but chained to the “letter of the law” that does not give liberty, but bondage. The bondage is held there because those following the law were clinging to something they could never attain, so there could never be true freedom. Our freedom and the freedom of those early believers was found through Jesus Christ and realized through the Spirit of God. There can be no transformation without the transformation generated by the Holy Spirit of God.
This is the very context of what it means to be filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit fills the space left by our sins being washed away. It is much like the devastation we see when a hillside gives away due to much rain. Trees, grass, and all vegetation slide down the hill and leave an empty hillside. A month later you see new vegetation and new trees beginning to arise in the bare ground. When we receive Jesus our sins are “washed” away and the bare ground of redemption is fertile soil ready to be seeded with the Holy Spirit and new life comes out of that washing away of the old life. A new life is a wonderful thing and Paul relates it to a veil being lifted from a person’s heart. When that veil is lifted the Holy Spirit teaches that person how to live in the new found freedom of God’s grace.
From the moment a person receives this freedom, and for the rest of their “breathing moments”, God is doing a work of new growth, with new results in their life. That new growth is eternal and lasting and there is no veil of the past that controls them anymore. They are a new canvas and God is painting a new picture in their life and the picture isn’t complete until they are taken to glory. See how Paul expounds on it further in Chapter 3 verses 15-18 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
It is a torch that is passed to us by God and the fuel that keeps that torch going is the Holy Spirit. The forgiveness we have in Christ is eternal and written on our hearts. The picture God paints is a picture of freedom in Christ and that liberty sets into motion a person whose reference goes before them and at the top it says “sold out for Jesus.” Nothing else matters in that recommendation. All is complete and fulfilled. Nuff Said!!
The Pilgrimage continues……