“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God” II Cor 3:5
Competent: sufficient, to attain. In this use it means that our inner resources are not sufficient. No matter how talented we are, we’re not smart enough, wise enough, powerful enough, etc. to attain true effectiveness in life.
Claim: I reckon, count, decide. We can’t add up our strengths and conclude that we have the resources we need.
Competence: ability, power. The things that make us effective as a Christian come from God. It is all Spirit, and thus we need infusions from the Spirit to be competent.
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.” II Cor 3:6
My job as a minister of the new covenant is to work with the Spirit to give life to others. My tools will be the tools of the Spirit: the Word, prayer, love, and Godly wisdom. I will need to rely on divine guidance — His plan, not mine. The only way to get this is to pray for it daily and often.
Thus, I cannot live in myself and be effective. I must die to self daily in order that the Spirit can work. That is how His life is at work in me, and how I can have His life to share with others.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair ...For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” II Cor 4:8, 11
It is also why I must go through trials, to remind me to rely on Him, and not on myself. It is so my spiritual muscles can be strengthened. It’s kind of like having a lazy eye. It will always rely on the good eye to see unless you put a patch over the good eye. God allows our “competencies” to be hampered so we have nowhere to turn but Him, and we must be strengthened in Him.
Lately I am seeing so much how I need this spiritual strength. I need it to invite people to the block party I want to have. I need it to be outward focused when I am running errands today. I need it to have the talks with others I need to have. I need it to set the right agenda for today.
I am listening right now to a message about the prophesies about Jesus. One point the speaker makes is that Solomon thought that he would be the one who fulfilled some of these prophesies. He thought they were written about him.
But he was not the one because of his worldly orientation. He had riches, his wives caused him to stumble. We think of him as the most wise man who ever lived, but his wisdom did not help him in the end.
In the same way, if I seek to build my competence, my wisdom, and rely on that, no matter how great it is, it will not help me. What I really need, what we all really need, is to die to self and rely on God for each breath, for making each plan, for guiding every act.