First Things First!March 10, 2020
Now he which established us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.
— 2 Corinthians 1:21
We once found a building that had great potential to become the headquarters for our ministry in Russia. The size was perfect; the location was ideal; and the price was remarkably low. We knew a deal like this didn’t come along very often, so we quickly moved to contact the seller. When we met him to discuss the building and its legal status, it sounded like everything was in order, so we requested that all the official documents concerning the building be delivered to our office for review.
Soon a huge pile of documents was delivered to our office so we could begin the difficult and laborious process of validating that everything was legally in order. When I saw the stack of documents on the table, I knew the task before us was immense, so we hired a lawyer to immediately get to work on this project. She estimated it could take up to two months to verify the legal status of this building. However, when we were only a few days into the process, we discovered there were serious complications with this property. Everything was not as it first seemed! Day by day, we dug up evidence of a mountain of problems associated with this property.
First things first! Before I am going to sign a contract and put my reputation on the line, I want to know that the paperwork is in order and be assured there is no risk to the ministry. Then and only then will I sign a deal! In the case of the documents concerning this prospective new building, I had adamantly refused to proceed until all the paperwork was in order — and I’m so glad I did!
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Doing “due diligence” is always smart before we finalize a deal and sign our name on a contract that legally binds us. But consider this: God also does “due diligence” before He decides whom He will and will not use. If it is logical to do research before signing a contract involving a large sum of money, think how much more logical it is for God to validate, confirm, and certify that we are ready for a big task before He promotes us into a visible position where we will represent Him before many people.
Let’s apply this to you for a moment. Perhaps you have a big dream in your heart and a desire for God to use you in a significant way. You may feel eager to get started and wish things would start moving faster. But you need to know that God is not focused on the clock as we usually are. He is more concerned about character, integrity, faithfulness, and purity of heart than about the calendar. These deeper issues are the things God focuses on to see if you and I are ready for a new assignment.
Perhaps you’ve heard the old phrase, “Don’t get the cart before the horse.” Nothing could be more applicable to what I am saying right now. God isn’t going to get the cart before the horse. He isn’t going to promote you until He confirms that you are ready and have the inward makings for greater responsibility. This principle is clear in Second Corinthians 1:21, where the apostle Paul wrote, “Now he which established us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.”
Today I want to draw your attention to the word “established” in the first part of this verse. It is the old Greek word bebaios, a word that means firm, durable, dependable, or reliable. By using this word, Paul affirmed that God wants to “establish” us — that is, to make us firm in faith, durable to withstand any spiritual condition, and steadfast, trustworthy, dependable, or reliable. These are traits He wants to produce in every child of God. Aren’t you glad He is steadfastly working to establish you and to make you strong?
You may not feel that you have reached this goal yet, but be assured that God is working deep inside to bring you to this place of firmness, durability, and reliability. Especially if you want God to use you in a mighty way, you must possess these vital character traits. It takes firmness to stand for God. Anyone who is a leader must have durability to resist difficult, painful, awkward, or uncomfortable times. For you to represent God, He must be assured that you are the kind of person on whom He may rely.
But there is another insight regarding the word bebaios that is very significant in the context of this verse. This is extremely important for you to understand because it demonstrates that God doesn’t lay His hand on someone in a mighty way until He has first done “due diligence” to make sure that person is ready for a greater task.
The word bebaios was also a legal term used to depict the lengthy and intensive investigative process involved to validate if a document was trustworthy.
In the ancient world, documents were written by hand. If those writing or copying the documents were not careful, mistakes could be made of great legal consequence. Because these often-occurring mistakes made documents flawed, it was not considered wise to give one’s final approval to a document until it was tested and proven trustworthy. So before a deal was finalized, it was prudent to test the document to validate its reliability. If the document was found to be valid, the contract could be quickly concluded. If the document had errors in it, those errors had to be corrected before the papers were signed and the seal of approval pressed into the hot wax. To sign a document and put one’s seal of approval upon it without first validating it would have been an act of foolishness. You will understand in just a moment why this concept is so important in the study of this verse.
Let’s go further into the verse and look at the word “anointed.” The word “anointed” comes from the Greek word chrio, which means to rub, to bathe, and, in certain contexts, to massage. This word depicted the application of various substances, such as oil, medicine, and water — and in some ancient texts, it even depicted the application of poison. In most cases, however, the word chrio was used to depict the anointing of oil. In the Old and New Testament, the word “anoint” is primarily used to depict a person who is anointed by God with the Holy Spirit.
To get the full grasp of the word “anointing” and how it was used in connection with the application of oil, we must stop and ponder the manner in which oil was applied to a recipient. When a person was anointed with oil in ancient times, a prophet, priest, doctor, or therapist would pour oil into his own hands. Once his hands were doused with oil, he would then place his hands on the subject and begin to massage or press the oil into the person’s head, hair, or flesh. So the word “anoint” didn’t just describe the pouring of oil from an upside-down bottle to drain every drop onto a person. The word depicts the generous application of the oil on a beneficiary by the hands of a master. Oil was very expensive and not to be wasted, so the notion of simply turning a bottle upside down and pouring its contents on a person was almost non-existent. Oil was far too precious to be applied in such a manner.
For a person to be anointed with oil, it required the anointer to put his hands on the anointed. In the truest sense, the word “anoint” describes a “hands-on” experience, for it was nearly impossible to be anointed without someone putting his hands on the recipient in order to apply the oil.
In a religious and political context, the laying on of hands was very important. The moment hands were publicly laid on someone, it was viewed as endorsement or approval. For example, when elected officials were installed into office, the senior body of politicians publicly laid hands on him as a way of declaring that he was officially endorsed and therefore empowered to do his job. In both Old and New Testament writings, we find that the laying on of hands was similarly used to declare support and endorsement of an individual. Especially in the early New Testament, the laying on of hands was so significant that it became an official ordinance of the church that was used when a person was promoted into a public position of leadership. When hands were laid on a person, it was also a public pronouncement of approval.
Now let’s take this truth and apply it to the principle we’re studying in Second Corinthians 1:21. In this verse, we find that God does not lay His hands on a person and thereby endorse him or her until He has first validated that the person is trustworthy of such an anointing. God does not quickly lay hands on anyone in this way. Furthermore, the moment God lays His hands on someone is the moment the oil of the Holy Spirit is imparted in a greater way. That oil is applied to a person’s life with God’s very own hands. This act is so holy that God does not carry it out before doing “due diligence” to validate that a person is trustworthy of a greater anointing.
The apostle Paul wrote that we are “epistles” that are read and known of all men (see 2 Corinthians 3:2). That means you are a living document — and God is reading the pages of your life to observe how you live, how you speak, how you treat others, and so on. He is doing investigative research to determine if you are ready for a promotion or a greater anointing. Don’t be too surprised if God finds a few errors that need correction, for none of us is perfect. If there are issues that need correcting — and I’m certain there are — you must allow the Holy Spirit to put you through a process to correct those flaws before you get the big break you’ve been dreaming of or before God promotes you to a higher level of responsibility. Remember, God is more concerned about character, integrity, faithfulness, morality, and purity of heart than He is about meeting your schedule requirements! God needs leaders who are firm, durable, reliable, sound, and trustworthy.
Rather than get in too big of a hurry and rush forward to seize positions you’re not ready for, it would be wise for you to take time to get established and work on eradicating errors in your life that would later discredit you, weaken you, or put your ministry, business, or dream at risk. Make it your goal to let God establish you and work these ingredients into your life so He can afterward put His hand on you and thereby anoint you for greater assignments.
First things first! Never forget that the anointing is serious to God — and before He gives you more, He first wants to validate that you are ready for a new dose of the Holy Spirit!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I ask You to work deeply in my life to make me the kind of person I need to be. You know how I desire for You to use me. Your Spirit has filled my heart with dreams of greatness, and I long for the day when You trust me enough to give me a bigger assignment in life. For now, I ask You to delve deep into my life — into my character, my level of integrity, my faithfulness, and my personal purity — to show me any areas that are weak and deficient. Rather than complain that it’s taking too long to get started at fulfilling my dream, help me realize that this is a God-given time to strengthen my foundation and to make sure I am ready for the big assignment when it finally comes along!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am allowing God’s Spirit to examine my heart in order to find any areas that could potentially discredit me, weaken me, or spoil my God-given dream. It is good that God has given me this time to look at my heart and to prepare myself. It is an opportunity to strengthen my foundation so that in the future, my life can support the great work that God will entrust to me. I don’t complain that it is taking too long or grumble that this time of waiting is difficult. Instead, I embrace this season of preparation as a gift from God to make sure that I am right, that my foundation is right, and that I am ready for the long-awaited assignments that He will give to me.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of any areas in your life right now that could potentially weaken you or even “take you down” later in life if you don’t deal with it and correct it immediately?
- Have you ever made a list of the areas in your life that you need to be improving and changing? Before you get too busy today, I recommend you take a few minutes to pray and make a list of those areas that need your attention. It won’t take too long to do it, but it will help you focus on areas where you need to change.
- Can you think of a person who was promoted too high or too quickly, and he came tumbling down because of flaws in his life that had never been corrected? Who was that person, and what can you learn by contemplating what he experienced?