Speaking the Truth in Love

Letter of Recommendation

Tom Reynolds started an auto parts manufacturing company in Detroit. Five years later the business employed more than 300 people. But one day Tom’s own human resources department sent him the following email: “Mr. Reynolds, according to our records you have never submitted letters of recommendation, something required of everyone in the company. Please verify that you are qualified to serve in your current position as President and CEO of Reynolds, Inc.”

In the real business world, of course, no HR department would dare to offer such a preposterous insult. But my fictitious story illustrates exactly how the Corinthians treated Paul. The church in Corinth was big (Acts 18:10), and he was the missionary who “planted” it (1 Cor. 3:6). Paul not only established the Corinthian church but also gave proof of his apostleship by performing mighty miracles in the city (2 Cor. 12:12). After Paul left Corinth, though, his critics began to question his authority and ability. They said that other preachers had letters of recommendation. Where were Paul’s letters? To this affront he replied: “Do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation” (3:1-2).

Perhaps all of us are occasionally guilty of the very thing that offended Paul. God has stamped evidence of himself all over creation—in the spider’s web, in the bird’s nest, in the grace of a fleeing deer. And yet at times we question whether he even exists. “Lord, could you reveal yourself in just one more way? Could you send a letter of recommendation?” God has showered his love on us in a myriad of ways—in the smell of flowers, the laughter of little children, the taste of good food, the beauty of sunsets, the joy of friendship, the love of family, the atoning death of Jesus. But one thing in our life goes wrong, and we wonder whether God even cares about us. “Lord, there’s something missing from your file.”

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