Are you sufficient?

Are you sufficient?

Are you sufficient?

The pandemic has created new words, but it has also brought to the fore existing words that previously loitered mainly in specialist circles. One such word is ‘efficacy’—as in, “the vaccine has an efficacy of X%”. The word just means the capacity something has to do what it's meant to do.

So what gives ministry its efficacy? Have a look with me at what the Apostle Paul has to say in 2 Corinthians 3:

1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered 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. 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ towards God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. ~ 2 Cor 3:1-6 (ESV)

Paul says of the Corinthians that their life in Christ is “a letter from Christ delivered by us” (v 3). So he clearly feels he played a part.

But then he denies any suggestion that he and the other apostles/ministers are “sufficient [NIV ‘competent’] in ourselves” (v 5). No, he says, “our sufficiency [competence] is from God” and the ministry efficacy only comes from the Spirit writing the word of God on “tablets of human hearts” (vv 3, 6).

It’s a good reminder about why prayer is the most vital of the four central Ps of ministry (prayer, people, proclamation, perseverance). It's the top priority in any disciple-making endeavour.

Ian Carmichael

Ian has been with Matthias Media from its beginning (1988). In late 2020 he stepped down from the CEO role, and now works as an honorary consultant and editor for Matthias Media. Ian and his wife, Stephanie, have two adult children, two (gorgeous) grandchildren, and are part of Chatswood Presbyterian church in Sydney.