Hold fast to the Lord your God as you have done to this day. Joshua 23:8  

Not that we are competent of our selves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God.

2 Corinthians 3:5  

Competence is an interesting word for Paul to use. As we read just this one verse we might think of a lot of things we aren’t competent in. Maybe flying an airplane, or making a souffle. So our competence comes from God? We could actually have God help us make a souffle that doesn’t collapse? Or demonstrate our competence in our driving test? Maybe we can get letters of recommendation that attest to our competence at a job.  

We need to read the section of 2 Corinthians around this verse. Starting in chapter 2:12 the section is entitled “Ministers of the new Covenant.” Paul talks about going to Troas to preach and “the Lord had opened a door” for him to do this. Verse 17 says that “we do not peddle the word of God for profit” but rather preach with sincerity, “like men (and women) sent from God.” Paul says no letters of recommendation are needed, that we are a letter from Christ. Then in 3:4 – our confidence is ours through Jesus Christ through God. We don’t claim the confidence to share the Gospel through any of our own competence. Rather, this competence comes from God.  

Earlier Paul has asked who is worthy of such a task as spreading the Good News. God has made us all competent as ministers of “a new covenant.” Not one that is the letter of the law but of the Holy Spirit. (verse 6)  Paul goes on in the chapter to talk about the glory of this New Covenant, one that brings righteousness through the grace of God. The same God that Joshua talks about in his farewell speech, one we need to continue to hold fast.   

Faithful God, often our lives are a juggling act. With our hands always in motion, holding fast to you seems impossible. Quell our arrogance that our power and skills make things work. Lord God, you have called us “in faith to serve humanity by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Today, we pledge to turn to you anew as “the source of our being and the inspiration of our service.” Amen.  

Chris Gabel