Paul discusses things that can bring devastation to the church. Church is about unique relationships with others who are pursuing the Lord longing to be more like Christ. What had happened in Corinth can occur in churches in the 21st century. The Corinthian believers were allowing people who called themselves brothers in Christ, to practice sin and in some cases sin that was unnatural even to those who knew not Jesus. Those who call themselves followers of Christ have different desires then the world and should pursue them energetically. However, some in the church claim to know Christ yet are fulfilling the desires of the flesh. They are to be avoided. In Corinth sexual immorality was not unusual, but in the church an awkward scenario was occuring; a son had taken his father’s wife. So you thought your church had problems. In addition to sexual immorality there were others claiming to follow Jesus and participating in the church who were excessively greedy always wanting more unable to be satisfied and content in Jesus. There were also revilers, drunkards, and swindlers finding comfort in claiming to be a follower of Christ and hanging out with other believers. Paul adamantly charges the Corinthians with cleaning out those who claim to know Christ and continue to entertain the pleasures of the flesh like sexual immorality, greediness, drunkenness, and fraud. Paul goes to extraordinary lengths to convey that the separation is with those who claim to know Jesus yet are constantly entertaining worldly desires. He also points out specifically this has nothing to do with separating from those who do not know Jesus that are involved in worldly passions. You should associate with those in the world for them to see Christ and experience a much better life. Those in the body, the new leaven because of Christ our Passover, are to reflect sincerity and truth not malice and evil.
Paul compares and contrasts his situation with the believers in Corinth. As an apostle he is last of all:
- sentenced to death
- spectacle to the world, angels,and men
- fools for Christ’s sake
- hunger, thirst
- poorly dressed
- labor w/own hands
- if reviled we bless
- when persecuted we endure
- when slandered we entreat
- became the scum of the world the refuse of all things
An apostle endures from multiple angles ultimately the extreme importance of the gospel message compels him to press on regardless of circumstances. Paul’s response to reviling, persecution, and slander are convicting and challenging to walk like Christ. A proper response is blessing, endurance, and entreating. Uh – fail. It’s one thing to have this response to maintain composure and testimony, while another to genuinely want the blessing of those who revile you or to authentically pour our kindness in the midst of slander. A person humbled by the greatness of the gospel views circumstances quite differently.
As a Corinthian believer they are:
- wise in Christ
Paul is not attempting to shame the believers, but remind them to what his life has been encompassed by while being their spiritual father. The Corinthians are encouraged to imitate Paul, so Paul sent Timothy to remind them of the ways of Christ. Paul is teaching the ways of Christ consistently in every church. Paul gives a warning to those in the church who possess the ability to talk excessively: I’m coming soon and will see whether you have power in the kingdom of God or whether you just talk. Paul would much rather come with love and a spirit of gentleness, but is willing to bring the rod if necessary.
So at the insistence of my daughter I let her help me mow tonight and wow did it bring back a lot of memories. I remember my dad, who is a master of ingenuity when it comes to small engine equipment, taking time to show me how to mow. First dad showed me the importance of life and the danger of a lawn mower. He was very adamant about keeping my body away from the blade. I know just how nervous he must have been after letting Rachel grab that handle alone (heart sink). Today we at least have the kill handle on push lawn mowers, but in the early 80’s we didn’t have a kill handle so the blade kept turning even if you let go of the handle. In an effort to keep me from slipping or getting my feet near the blade dad had me where my soccer cleats. Again another effort to protect me from what I didn’t see then as something that dangerous. Another thing dad did that I found myself doing last night was outlining an area to mow making it easier for Rachel to maneuver around the yard. I didn’t remember outlining for simplicity until the second area of grass she was going to cut. Outlining an area makes it easier for the newbie so I mowed the edges where you have to push and pull the lawn mower quite a bit. As soon as that happened I was like oh wow this is exactly what dad did when I was little to make it easier. So I would outline the area mowing all the parts super close to the fence, house, air conditioner, wall, etc. and then Rachel would mow the center area. Dad really was making it easier for me to get the work done efficiently. Later when I was a little more proficient at mowing dad would use the weed eater to make the process quick and efficient always making the mowing part easy. Unbeknownst to me dad was teaching me processes and flow. He was teaching me how to be more efficient and organize processes. Another thing Dad taught me was trial and error. He was never content with cutting the grass one way he wanted to find the fastest most efficient way to mow the grass. Take time to figure out the best way to get job done in the shortest amount of time. You can’t cut corners (ha), but you can find ways to take less steps and always have the blade cutting grass as you move. You never wanted to be moving long distances over grass that was already cut (you would get the dad stare). The stories could go on…like when I got ran over yellow jackets nest and got stung multiple times. Dad used a friends chewing tobacco to sooth the sting. Several times after mowing dad would take me up to the Shell Gas Station on Clemmonsville Rd in his big green truck (extra size tires) and get us a bottle of Pepsi with a pack of peanuts. This is where dad taught me how to pour peanuts into the pepsi can bottle (try it you may like it). Really glad my dad has never been scared of work especially work that will put callouses on your hands and build a little muscle. Unbeknownst to Rachel she is learning a process while building some callouses and muscle. Hopefully will avoid the yellow jackets. I still have to get her by the gas station though. At the end of mowing Rachel says, I’m a natural at that dad. I guess I will let her do one of my favorite things for a few years.