Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. (2 Corinthians 2:17)
Today we’re going to talk about sincerity and honesty — values that are of utmost importance to the new covenant ministry because the means by which the message of the gospel reaches anyone is through how we live our lives. We are the proving ground of the new covenant, so that if we are anything less than sincere, the message will be either hindered or misunderstood.
This issue is actually the cause of much unintentional false teaching in Christian circles. Many among those who lead, as well as those who are being led, have bought into the idea that the Christian leader, in order to be successful, must be better — more spiritual, happier, more successful, etc. — than anyone else. But perpetuating this myth requires a certain level of dishonesty. If Christian leaders told the whole truth about themselves, people might discover someone just as anxious, fearful and sinful as they are.
This, of course, is the whole point. Discovering this is not the end of one’s ministry, as many suppose, it is just the beginning. By being honest and sincere about one’s life, struggles, doubts and beliefs, leaders become more human, more vulnerable, more accessible, and more capable of conveying the message that the hope is not them, the hope is Christ.
Were you disappointed over discovering that Paul got so anxious over not finding Titus in Troas that he walked right by a door of ministry that the Lord had opened for him, or were you relieved and encouraged that God just might be able to use you, too, since you probably would have done the same thing?
This point is central to the new covenant, as we will see later through the example of Moses, but if we convey anything other than the truth about ourselves, we are operating under the old covenant, not the new. The new covenant ministry never requires a perfect example, but it always requires an honest one. That is why Paul writes that when he speaks before anyone, he speaks as though he were standing before God. He might be able to fool the people, but he knows he cannot fool God. He can’t stand before God and lie to the people. That would be what he calls “peddling” the word.
This should be a huge encouragement to us by showing that the only way we can make a difference in someone else’s life is when we are honest about ours. This is one of the most freeing things about the new covenant, and why we keep coming back to it again and again, because it’s so easy to forget: God’s most effective message and ministry to others comes through you, as you are, not as you think you should be. The truth, by way of the new covenant, requires an honest, transparent person.
One more thing. The word translated “sincerity” comes from a Greek word that had its origin in Paul’s day in the making and selling of pottery, and the parallel was not wasted, I’m sure. The word literally means “before” or “tested by” the sun.
As you may know, when pottery is fired, even the tiniest air bubbles in the clay can cause a crack in the final product. If it’s a large crack, the whole piece must be discarded, but hairline fractures were often filled with wax before the glaze went on so as to hide them from the buyer in the marketplace. The only way you could tell, if you were purchasing pottery, was to hold the piece up to the sun, as its bright light would reveal any hidden cracks.
In like manner, we stand before the bright light of God, where all our hidden cracks are revealed, and far from being a hindrance, this is actually a huge asset to the ministry because the light of God’s power actually shines only through our cracks, not our pretty, glazed-over surfaces.
Day 5 Challenge:
What does peddling the word of God mean to you? Does it refer to Christian Bookstores who sell more peripheral trinkets than Bibles, or the hawkers at the airport who hand out their tracts and ask for money. Or does it mean something else?
Perhaps a peddler is someone who preaches but never touches the poor; or perhaps judges the behavior of others without ever first looking in the mirror; or someone who uses a superficial, shallow approach to the Word of God that makes our human condition into something impressive in return for a hefty offering.
Have you ever peddled the word of God?
What does it mean to you to speak before God with sincerity? What is sincerity? We often speak of someone as “A man of integrity.” What do we mean when we say that?
As you walk and talk with those you meet today, discover a man or woman who speaks with sincerity. What is it about this person that tells you she or he is some of integrity? Enter into a conversation with this person and probe his or her heart. Is he/she trustworthy? Why or why not?
Have a look in the closest reflection near you or find a mirror in the bathroom. Look deeply into the reflection and probe your own heart as you ask yourself, are you someone who speaks before God with sincerity, or are you just a peddler? Take a selfie and send it in with any comments you care to share.
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