Competence From Heaven

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Mooooo Two cows were grazing in a pasture when they saw a milk truck pass. On the side of the truck were the words, “Pasteurized, homogenized, standardized, vitamin A added.”
One cow sighed and said to the other, “Makes you feel sort of inadequate, doesn’t it?”
From John Maxwell’s book The Winning Attitude:

Paul wrote, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them– yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Cor 15:9-10 NIV)

He also wrote, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Cor 2:15-16 NIV)

Makes you feel sort of inadequate, doesn’t it?

Or, as Paul asked, “who is equal to such a task?”

His own answer, “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant– not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor 3:4-6 NIV)


It is a mistake to be full of self-confidence and not recognize our own limitations, but it is also a mistake to limit God and not know that he is adequate for all things, giving us competence to do all that he wishes us to do. The prophet Amos took no pride in his own qualifications, training or background, but he still said “hear the word of the Lord.”

Amos 7:14-16a 4 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, `Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now then, hear the word of the LORD… NIV

Moses denied his ability or competence to lead Israel (Ex. 4:10-13), and meant every word of it, but he led them and taught them anyway, for forty years, with God’s help. Jeremiah protested his own youth, weakness, and inexperience but God insisted he was a chosen vessel and must walk in confidence, not fear, with God’s own words in his mouth.

Jer 1:4-10
The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5″Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

6″Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”

7But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, `I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

9Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. 10See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”NIV

Jeremiah could have God’s words in his mouth, and speak without fear. If our competence comes from God, as Paul said of himself, and not for self-confidence, then we too are equal to such a task, through Christ.

1 Peter 3:13-16 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. NIV

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