Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Verse 11: “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

“Don’t get in trouble!” “Don’t do that, it’ll hurt!” We’ve heard those phrases before; now how about these:

“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” That quote was from the late Rep. John Lewis from atop the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL on March 1, 2020. https://www.al.com/news/2020/07/get-in-good-trouble-famous-quotes-from-the-late-john-lewis.html . He was speaking of the type of trouble one would encounter confronting injustice, but not backing away from the confrontation. I thought about that phrase when I read the Holman New Testament Commentary on I & II Corinthians on 2 Cor. 7. It, too, made reference to a story about visiting people in the hospital and the term “good pain”…that when suffering “temporary agony that leads to the discovery and eradication of a disease is really a blessing.” (pg. 385 of the above book).

You wouldn’t normally associate “trouble” and “pain” with the adjective “good”. Likewise, you would think that someone who had been reprimanded wouldn’t feel better about the experience. But here, Paul is complimenting the Corinthian church for repenting and learning from their past sin and the sorrow that was caused. Paul even listed the benefits gained in verse 11 from the lesson they had learned. Therefore, the reprimand produced good fruit in the church.

When I used to officiate football, I learned some things correctly, but in my zeal to know more, I talked more that I listened. I had a veteran referee on a long “away game” have a talk with me about it. Yes, what he said stung my pride, but he was right. I learned from it, and became a better official because of it. I also came to value his wisdom very much in officiating matters, so that I would use him as a barometer to make sure I was learning correctly.

How about you, Christian? Do you learn from God’s correction? Remember, He does it because He loves us, and wants us to grow in Him.

Something to think about.

Verses 11-12: “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.”

In the 1965 Pink Panther cartoon, Pink Ice, the Panther is running a diamond mine in South Africa. However, all his diamonds continue to be stolen by rival mine owners, Devereaux and Hoskins. When the bumbling duo attempts to get rid of the Panther, he uses good ol’ fashioned cartoon tricks to ultimately make them distrust each other and have them at each other’s throats, all the while taking their diamonds in return. This was one of those rare Pink Panther cartoons where the Panther actually spoke (the voices of the Panther, Devereaux, and Hoskins were provided by the legendary voice actor, Rich Little.)

Though very humorous to watch how the Panther gets Devereaux and Hoskins to begin sniping at each other and eventually antagonize each other, there are people today and back in Biblical times who would set people against each other. This happened in the case of Paul and the Corinthian church; false prophets had filled the church with lies about Paul, and the church didn’t return the affection back to Paul that he had honestly and openly shown them. Paul correctly admonishes them, telling them that they are their own worst enemy; that Paul and his company of missionaries are not restricting them, but they are hurting themselves.

How many times have we allowed our own misconceptions or groundless beliefs about something to get in the way of the Lord’s work? We need to listen to the truth from Jesus Christ, He who is the Truth. Think how much the church could do today if all its members were united in following God, and not trying to add a comma where God put a period?

Something to think about.

Verse 7: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

I can think of several analogies that this verse brings to mind, such as the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indy has to make the “leap of faith” across a large chasm to save his father. I think of an old, dear friend of my wife and mine, who, although physically blind, can see better through her walk of faith than you and me. How about the scene from The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke fails to lift his massive X-wing fighter out of the swamp using the Force, sees Yoda do it when he failed, and says to him, “I don’t believe it”…and Yoda replies, “That is why you failed.”

But today, I think this is a good verse to claim when confronted by the world-wide pandemic we’re living in. Experts come on TV daily with predictions and charts over where hotspots will wane or where “the curve flattens out”. Governors talk about when it will be safe to resume certain activities and not others, all hoping to restart their economies without risking a resurgent outbreak of the coronavirus infections. Just like some things in our lives, we can’t see what the future holds with great certainty.

But I know Who holds the future, and it is faith in Jesus Christ to bring us through. We’ll get through this…through Him.

Something to think about.

Verse 7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, was always one of my favorite Spider-Man villains. Otto was slightly overweight, was not in very good shape, and had to wear glasses; however, he commanded a set of robotic arms that allowed him to go toe-to-toe with Marvel super-heroes like Spider-man and Mister Fantastic. Though he was a brilliant scientist and unparalleled expert in radiation (that fact admitted by Reed Richards with no shame), his weakness was that his human body couldn’t stand the abuse he’d take in a fight if his adversary made it through the defense of his robotic tentacles. His great power (the incredible robot-arm harness) was grafted to a frail body that was very human.

Paul is explaining to the Corinthian church about the light of God in his life as well as their fellow Christians. The power of God, used by disciples in acts of healing, was not of them though. Paul wanted to stress that having God’s power in his life didn’t turn him superhuman; he was all but subject to the frailties of the human body and its weaknesses. Paul wanted to make sure they knew that this treasure, the light of God through Jesus Christ our Savior, was from God and not themselves. He compared the human body to an earthen vessel….temporary…common…and subject to breaking.

That way, as he stated, “the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

Something to think about.

Verses 2-3: “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

We need to give thought to what kind of legacy we show to others. Have you ever heard of Howard Odell? Chances are, unless you are a die-hard University of Washington fan, you probably don’t know him. Odell was the head football coach of the Huskies from 1948 to 1952. Among one of his assistants he had at the time was Don Coryell, who later went on to fame in the NFL of the San Diego Chargers. Coryell once had an assistant there named Ray Perkins. Perkins later coached the New York Giants and had two assistants of note: Bill Parcells, who succeeded him as head coach, and Bill Belichick, who served under Perkins and Parcells. Now you’re probably recognizing some names; if not, please read on. Belichick is the current longtime head coach of the New England Patriots and had an assistant who later went on to lead not one but two different college football teams to win the national championship. I think even the most casual football fan recognizes his name: Nick Saban.

What a coaching tree that is, rooted in a man named Howard Odell. Other famous coaches have similar trees: Nick Saban himself, Bear Bryant, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, just to name a few.

What about the legacy of a man named Edward Kimball? Try this on for thought:
Sunday School teacher Edward Kimball helped lead Dwight L. Moody to Christ;
J. Wilbur Chapman was converted at a Dwight L. Moody evangelistic meeting;
Billy Sunday was converted at a Chapman meeting;
Mordecai Ham was converted at Billy Sunday meeting;
and Billy Graham was converted at a Ham meeting.

And yes, we mean THAT Billy Graham! That list was sourced from https://sermons.faithlife.com/sermons/84109-from-moody-to-graham

Paul here is commenting on the false prophets who upset the Corinthian church; among some of the things they tried to do to justify their reputation was to produce false letters of recommendation. Paul is stating here that he never needed such letters, because the Corinthian converts “are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

Think about the legacy you’re leaving. Are you sowing seeds today that will help produce a harvest for Christ?

Something to think about.

Verse 16: “To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”

In Holman New Testament Commentary I and II Corinthians (copyright 2000 by Broadman & Holman Publishers) on page 312, the author, Richard L. Pratt, Jr., shared a story:

“I have a good friend who is a dentist. He once told me: “When a patient has a toothache, I’m his best friend. But when he has no pain and I tell him we have to drill, I’m his worst enemy.” Dentists inflict pain to help us avoid pain. That makes them people to avoid, but it also makes them people to whom we run for help.”

Even though that was a life application from the previous chapter, I thought about the application to today’s verse. To those who have rejected the Gospel of Christ, other Christians, to them, are detested (“aroma of death”). However, to those who have become saved by the grace of Jesus through that same Gospel, fellow Christians are welcomed (“aroma of life”). You know, when we bathe routinely, it’s not uncommon to use perfume, aftershave, or deodorant to smell better or to keep smelling better. We, as human beings, want to be welcomed by others.

My wife and I both snore in our sleep (don’t tell her I told you! :-)). And we have both woken each other up with our snoring! When she had to stay overnight in the hospital after some surgery, I slept on the fold-out couch bed in the room. As you guess, I didn’t fall asleep easily; I listened out to see how my wife was resting. Finally, I heard it…she was snoring! A sound that I used to hate when I’d have to wake her to make her stop was at that moment, as sweet as birdsong to me…it meant she was sleeping ok.

How’s your aroma, today, Christian?

Something to think about.

Verses 3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

A recent story on national news described the goal of a 7-year-old named Zohaib Begg in Virginia. Seems the young child grew to respect and to love nurses and doctors when he spent some years in the hospital when he was younger. So when the coronavirus pandemic hit and Zohaib saw all the needs of the medical community, he made it his goal to supply them with shower caps, gloves, and masks that he collected from hotels. The young man actually marshalled the resources of hotels and such to send more than 6,000 caps, masks, and gloves to hospitals. You can read the full story here at https://abcnews.go.com/US/year-donates-6000-masks-gloves-caps-hotels-hospital/story?id=69948357 .

Zohaib was comforted by nurses and doctors, and then later passed on that comfort and aid to other nurses and doctors. Paul here is reminding the Corinthian church that God is to be praised for being the “God of all comfort” in their lives. Part of that blessing is to pass on comfort in His Name to others in trouble. Especially during such stressful times, take a moment and see how God would want you to comfort somebody. It may not be a monumental effort like this young boy did; it may be to help one person instead. But to paraphrase what Jesus stated in Matthew 25 “if you have done unto the least of my brethren, you have done it unto me.”

Something to think about.

Verse 14: “Let all that you do be done with love.”

We are truly living in strange times in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has altered our daily lives like few things have in many decades. But amongst all the worry and dark times, there are some signs to see and to have hope in. Let me share one with you that happened to me.

I work for a company that now has me working remotely from home. I had to contact my internet service provider to talk about a change in my hotspot allowance I had noticed (it had gone up!). With their local offices closed, I had to stay online for about 20 minutes waiting to “chat” with a technician. After I connected with a woman who answered all my questions about how my hotspot allowance had expanded (the ISP was doing this as a way of helping most folks having to work on computer from home) and that it didn’t cost me any extra on my bill, she was about to disconnect our conversation when God encouraged me to ask her quickly, “How are y’all doing right now in all this?”

She at first replied with the usual “it’s been hectic and we’re doing the best we can”. We talked a couple minutes more, and I thanked her, telling her she had been most helpful. Though they were words on a screen to me, I could tell that it really hit home in a good way for her. I could almost hear her emotions, thanking me for my patience and my calm demeanor and my encouragement. I’ve worked with customer service people before and I know that the delay wasn’t her fault; they had been swarmed since the outbreak with callers, some of them hostile. But, at this moment, I genuinely wanted to let her know that we’ll be okay, and that things will get better…we’ll make it through. Somehow, I had the feeling that Jesus had me on that conversation with this particular person at the right time. She just needed to know…that someone cared.

Paul closes 1 Corinthians with many last blessings and requests, but he reminds the church to “let all that you do be done with love.”

Today, and tomorrow, and the day after, show Jesus’s love to someone. We all need that love right now!

Something to think about.

Verse 8: “Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of time.”

In the movie The Avengers, in the scene where Captain America first faces off against Loki in Stuttgart, Germany, Loki addresses him as “The soldier. The man out of time.” Those who know the origin of Captain America will remember that, although he fought in World War II, due to a freak accident, he was frozen into suspended animation, and thawed out alive in the modern day. I was reminded of that scene when I read today’s verse.

My wife and I have sometimes discussed how, compared to a lot of modern society, we feel out of place due to our old-fashioned upbringing and morals. Sometimes, we have reminisced about how it be interesting to go back in time and see how society was: the society where our morals and standards would fit in more.

Paul is reciting to the Corinthian church about all the eyewitnesses to seeing the risen Savior. He mentions he was last to see Him, as if he was born out of time (the NIV translation says of one being abnormally born). He goes on to mention that he considers himself the least of the apostles because of his history. But, remember, Jesus forgave him. He used Paul to become one of the greatest missionaries to ever walk the earth (literally walk!)

The next time you feel like someone who’s “out of time”, remember God has you at the exact point in history that He wants you. Especially in the strange times in which we are living, remember: we may be the only example of Jesus others need to see…a light in a dark world.

Something to think about.

Verses 7-9: “Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.”

Set the time machine of your memories back to 1974-1981: do you remember a game show called “Name That Tune”? Hosted by Tom Kennedy, this game show offered a musical twist to its questions. (Now the show is actually older than this and had a handful of different hosts, but I remember this one specifically.) Contestants had to name musical pieces through a series of rounds and games, but I remember the Bid-a-note challenge: this was between two contestants and had as its clues a spoken Jeopardy-like hint. Based on the hint, the two finalists would bid down how many piano notes of the answer they needed in order to guess the song. The starting bid was seven notes, but contestants could bid down to one note, at which the other contestant would challenge them to “name that tune”. (Now granted, if they stated they could name it in one note, chances are they knew the answer from the clue, not the notes!) In most cases, the contestant winning the bid would have to recognize the song from several notes…just enough notes to hopefully name that tune.

Did you ever go somewhere and didn’t know what people were saying? The obvious example is to travel to a foreign country and not know the native language. If you were in that situation, you had to have an interpreter: one who knew what was being said and could tell you what it means. Paul here is advising the Corinthians that while it’s good to have the gift of speaking in tongues, he urged them to pray to ask for the gift of understanding/translation as well, whether personally or for someone to be there to interpret. Non-Christians would see someone speaking in tongues and conclude they had a gift, but to Christians in church who heard only the tongue being spoken, it was useless unless someone stood up to interpret. (Look up the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:27-39 for a good example!)

While the gift of tongues is not commonly heard today, Christians still need to tell others about Jesus. Sometimes they need to give their testimony without “churchy” words. Because, believe it or not, there are still those who seek to know who Jesus is, and we have to tell them in a way they’ll understand. Sometimes, we may need to do it in more than one note!

Something to think about!