Commending Ourselves – the struggle and His plan

*this photo was taken from architectural details of the Chicago Art Institute by the author (rights reserved),
the overlay was done using the vrsly app
Session 2 – Commending Ourselves
The title of today’s study seems, at first, a complete oxymoron. How can we commend ourselves? Isn’t it by nature wrapped up in report and reputation, which is bestowed by others?
True, and not true. Ha! His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, right?!
In the Epistles, we see a lot of commendation happening between the brothers and sisters of the early church.
Let’s look at Romans 16:1-2:
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.”
Phoebe, commended to the Romans by Paul. He asks that they welcome her, help her, provide for her.
How about 2 Corinthians 8:23-24:
“As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.” (Note: the uninspired heading of this section is the Commendation of Titus.)
So we are definitely invited to give commendation to one another in the church. When we know someone has a gift that can be utilized, or will be a blessing to another church or on the mission field, we can commend them and give a good report of them to those can bless.
But 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 gives us another vantage point, one where commending ourselves is not outside the scope of God’s kingdom work:
“Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
    and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”
This verse tells us that we report the Faith to those around us, we give a kind spirit to the faith when we
  Endure
  Suffer
  Living pure lives
  Show patience
   Are kind
   Are genuine
   Show love
   Are generous
   Rejoice
   Are content
Now, that’s a lot of “are’s” or “be’s.” Don’t be afraid, sister, of not living up. That isn’t the point. Our salvation is not wrapped up in our ability to live faithfully. This passage is not about what we should do, it’s about what life does look like.
As Christians, we should not be surprised by affliction. Jesus tells us over and over that it’s going to be our reality this side of heaven. But what this passage tells us in 2nd Corinthians, is that the afflictions, the sorrow, the struggle, all of it, does have a message, a commendation, for the world to see. He has a plan and a purpose and He WILL use it.
You are my commendation and I am yours, we live His message in and through one another. Spurring one another on. Encouraging, building up. And the message goes out. He who does this work is Faithful.
How has or does God specifically use you uniquely, as a commendation of His work in this world? Thank you! Thank you for being you, and sharing Him! 

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