Sarah is preparing to go on a missions trip to Cameroon, Africa for two months. Through the generosity of a company that sells footwear, she was given a pair of Danner boots made of leather and Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex is a durable substance that allows the skin to breathe yet is waterproof. Unfortunately, the directions from the mission organization were explicit that only all-leather boots were acceptable.
My wife called to make sure Sarah’s boots would be acceptable. The woman on the phone at the mission headquarters said “Absolutely not.” She claimed that Gore-Tex would break down for anyone working with cement. I knew this would not be a problem as Sarah would not be living in wet cement and is quite capable of cleaning her boots. So I called the organization. I spoke to a young man and stated that I would prefer my daughter be allowed to use these boots as they would serve her well. He cited problems they had with non-leather boots coming apart. I agreed that poorly-made boots can unravel but asserted that these are high-quality Danners! He didn’t care and as the conversation progressed became increasingly rude. I stated that if this was the way the organization treated people who had legitimate questions then I was not sure I wanted my daughter to even go with them. The temperature of my blood surely rose four degrees! The young man asked if I would like to speak to his director.
I tried reasoning with the man in charge to no avail. For twenty years this organization has used leather-only boots and they were not about to change their policy. I gave up. Boiling blood usually results in sinful words; at least leather tongues don’t start fires.
The Apostle Paul asks a startling question in 2 Corinthians 2:15,16. “For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this?”
Six verses later in chapter three he gives the answer to his query. “ It is not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God. He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life” (3:5,6).
The Danner defeat was an enlightening prelude to Paul’s message. Our competence cannot be founded on rules or anything we manufacture—whether it be as gospel ambassadors or as a priesthood of believers. By our own efforts we cannot keep God’s Law! Nor can we keep from sin which results in our death. Furthermore, when competency is based on following rules two side effects often emerge: a prideful attitude (rudeness or condescension), and inflexibility (unwillingness to accept what is different).
Our competency must come from God. Through His strength we can live holy lives. Through Christ’s blood we gain forgiveness from sin and eternal life. Through the Holy Spirit we become able ministers of His new covenant. And if our competency is founded in His leading our perspective and understanding of rules will be shaped by an attitude of humility and a willingness to follow God’s leading even when it takes us out of our comfort zone. So the next time you give someone the boot, make sure you are following the Spirit and not the leather.
©2005 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)