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Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

I teach a class of international graduate students at a seminary each day, and we require each of the students to lead a short Bible study before class begins. Yesterday, one of the students presented a message that was quite striking to me, especially as a writer.

After reading 2 Corinthians 3:1-3, the student noted how people can be letters from Christ to us. He showed an adorable video of his three-year-old daughter wishing him a happy birthday from Korea. She was his letter from Christ, which lifted him up and gave him great joy.

As I considered the student’s message, my thoughts drifted to apply the metaphor of letters more broadly. We are all, in a sense, letters. We have been written by God (see the post “As You Write, You Are Being Written”), hand-crafted, the living product of divine penmanship.

Perhaps the most striking thing about this truth lies in the extension of the metaphor. Letters are always addressed to someone. Someone is going to read you today. What are they going to read?

Letters are always addressed to someone. Someone is going to read you today. What are they going to read?

Of course, there’s no simple answer to that question. A host of people could read a thousand different things in your actions. But if we are sensitive to this truth from the start of the day, it has great potential to change the way we engage with others. The person you notice walking just behind you towards the entrance of Wawa—are you going to hold the door for him? That’s a letter. The co-worker whom you casually ask, “How was your weekend?”—are you really going to wait and listen for an answer? That’s a letter. The mother or father who makes a routine phone call to you—are you going to ask how you can pray for them? That’s a letter.

As my student pointed out, letters can be profoundly uplifting. But people are letters. You are a letter to everyone you meet today. How will you be read? Will your readers be able to sense the Spirit’s writing on your heart? Or will you live the day as a sealed envelope, closed off to every addressee? These are the sorts of little decisions we make on a daily basis that have momentous impact. 

You, my reader, are a letter today. I wonder what people will read in you . . .

Like what you read? There’s much more about how language is related to all that we do, here:


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