“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5/NIV).
Just before saying this, Paul has reminded the Corinthians that they had become believers in Jesus Christ through his labours. He did not need letters of recommendation. He said the Corinthian believers were such a letter by themselves.
Paul had been preaching at Corinth. The spark of trust in God conveyed through his words had ignited their hearts. They came to believe and experience that the message they heard was actually true. Paul recalls: “Our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.” (1 Corinthians 1:6/NIV).
Paul did not boast about having been a blessing to these men and women. He maintained that God had been enabling him to minister in that fashion.
The apostle knew full well that he himself was a sinner saved by grace. He trusted that God would strengthen and enable him to live a godly life. He prayed to God for wisdom and guidance in his preaching and teaching. Was it not right for him therefore to give all the glory to God?
In 1 Corinthians 1 he says: “That no flesh should glory in his (in God’s) presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. That according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (Verses 29-31/ KJV).
Paul’s Christian ministry was based on what God was working in his life and through him. He had learned what it means to glory in the Lord.
Through Messiah Jesus his own life had been changed and renewed. His sins had been forgiven and he now was living in “newness of life.”
God’s own love had gained a foothold in Paul’s life as well as in other believers. Paul was confident: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5/KJV).
It is right for us to honour God for any spiritual blessings we have received from him. On the other hand we could also thank God for any natural gifts and skills manifest in our lives.
“What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1Corinthians 4:7/ NIV).