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Verse 6: “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

A male church leader and a female church pianist once confessed to the pastor of an affair with each other (both were married to other spouses). The church was shocked; the pastor, with the support of the deacons, took appropriate action. The church leader stepped down from his leadership role as did the pianist from hers. They were both genuinely repentant and sought help in mending their marriages. In this manner, the church had to defend against the corruption of sin into its membership, and two families were ultimately restored.

Paul had an opposite problem here; it was reported to him that a brother in the Corinthian church was guilty of active sexual immorality. The difference here is, not only had the brother not repented of it and was still sinning, and not only had the Corinthian church not acted to discipline him, they actually were proud to the point of acceptance of it! (The verse quoted above is NKJV; NIV translation uses the phrase above “Your boasting is not good”.

Paul couldn’t believe his ears! Corinth historically was a city that had an open acceptance of loose and open sexual lifestyles (page 80, Deeper Discoveries, A. Sexual Immorality (5:1), in Holman’s New Testament Commentary of I & II Corinthians). Paul reminded them that the church, although ministering to sinners and unbelievers, is supposed to be different from the world. When people see the church tolerating sin that they supposedly are against, they cry “hypocrite!” It hurts the ministry of the Gospel when the church tolerates sin, worse when it brags about it! When ministering to a member about their sin, if they are unrepentant, the church has to take action. Sometimes that action is to dismiss them from the fellowship (in verse 5 of this passage, Paul calls on the church to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”). Hopefully when the fallen member comes to repentance, then we should be faithful to welcome them back.

Reading that passage about historical Corinth calls forth comparisons to the modern world and some churches we have today. We don’t need to let Satan poison the whole church with one little piece of bad “leaven”. We should always confess our sins to God and seek our church family’s help in repenting of that sin.

Something to think about.

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Verse 16: “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.”

Chief Martin Brody had had a hard day. Between dealing with the mayor of Amity and the politics of not hurting the island’s tourist business and the more serious matter of convincing people that they had a shark problem on their hands (after the deaths that had occurred), he was worn. At home, after supper while his wife was putting away dishes, the chief sat at the table with his young son, Sean. He took a drink from his glass, and so did Sean. He put his head in his hands, and so did Sean. His wife paused at the kitchen door, watching this interplay. Brody then finally cut his eyes toward his son and realized he was imitating him. He interlocked his fingers, and Sean followed suit. He flexed his fingers and so did Sean. Then he slowly made a mean face with his hands and Sean, in his little boy way, tried to do the same…the result was a funny little face. The chief leaned over to him and said “Come here.” Sean leaned over and the Brody said “give us a kiss”. “Why?” Sean asked innocently. After a pause, the chief said, “because I need it.” Sean kissed his daddy on the cheek, and shortly thereafter was sent up to bed. Despite the weary load he carried, Brody knew he was still a hero in his son’s eyes…all because of his imitation of him.

The above scene was from the blockbuster movie Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg. While watching the clip on Youtube, I read a post from someone who claimed that this scene took place between shots, and was not even in the script at the time. Spielberg, when he saw it, filmed it and put it in the movie. (Again, this was from an unsubstantiated post, but it would be neat if it was true).

An oft old axiom goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” For children who love their parents, it is normally a sign of their love that they imitate what they do. Paul here was urging the Corinthian church, who he called “his children” to imitate him…not imitate false leaders. He wanted them to adhere to the true Gospel and more, to adopt the humility that he showed, not the false pride they seemed to be displaying. Of course, this meant they would be called “fools” by the world, but that was what Paul was called for the sake of spreading the Gospel (references here from my Holman Concordance on I & II Corinthians, and my Holman Bible footnotes).

So whom are you imitating today?

Something to think about today.

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Verse 11: “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.”

I was recalling the first time I went through the Corinthian books, and I saw a small notation on this passage. I did a series before on the 4-1-1; verses of the New Testament that were chapter 4, verse 11. But God struck me with some insight on all those references He led me too.

As much as we don’t like to repeat ourselves…well, I’ll put it the way a Christian brother put it to me through a devotional one time. He detoured off the main point to “chase a rabbit…but this is a good rabbit to chase”! This was the post from the 4-1-1 series, and is even more appropriate today.

Paul above is describing what he and his fellow apostles are going through in proclaiming the faith. Many Christians were persecuted in the days of the Roman Empire, not just by the Romans, but by the religious leaders who rejected Jesus.

Well, yeah, that’s way back then…that doesn’t happen in the 21st century now.

In the words of the stereotypical addicted gambler, “want to bet?”

Ask the Christians in northern Iraq today who are being hounded out of their homes by Islamic militants.

Ask the Christians in heavily Muslim countries who are targeted and martyred just because they are Christians.

Ask Christians in the United States: have someone make a statement that is somewhat derogatory toward any other religion and watch the outrage and backlash on the news…let the derogatory remark be about Christians and listen to the silence or the apathy.

Persecution still happens today to Christians. Take heart; Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Something to think about today.

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Verse 7: “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

There once was a little boy who lived on a farm. When he began attending elementary school, his mom (like most parents) made his lunch and put it in his lunchbox. Every day, he’d open his lunch to discover as the main entrée, a small Thermos container with a hot vegetable that his family grew on the farm (sometimes it might be butter beans, or black-eyed peas, or even homemade soup). The little boy later on noticed that all his other classmates seemed to have sandwiches, and he began to feel…different.

He asked his mother and she explained it was more nutritious for him to eat something that they grew on the farm rather than have to buy sandwich meat and the fixings to go with it from the store. Finally he confided in his friends one day, that he wished he could have a sandwich like they had. Astonished, his friends told him that they wished they could have hot vegetables like he had!

Now, he could’ve bragged about having hot vegetables, but what would have that have gained? He didn’t fix the lunch, his mother did! Having a hot meal didn’t make him any better than his classmates. All that he had in his lunchbox had been prepared for him; he didn’t fix his own lunch (granted, I know this is a small child we’re talking about!)

Paul was admonishing the Corinthian church along the same lines. Apparently, they were feeling a little “superior” to non-believers, and that wasn’t good! (I think about the old Church Lady character of Dana Carvey’s on Saturday Night Live, doing her “superior dance”). Paul reminded them that what they had was by grace given; they didn’t possess it from the start. Rather than brag, they needed to reach out to the unbelievers and tell them of Jesus’s gift of God’s grace, that they could have it too! The church is not an exclusive club in this case; everyone is welcome to join.

Something to think about.

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Verse 2: “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”

During the 2016 Presidential election, I heard a term that I was not familiar with: faithless elector. I was familiar with the term elector and the Electoral College, whose votes are the ones that determine the presidential and vice-presidential election. However, I had never heard of a “faithless elector”. According to Wikipedia:

“In United States presidential elections, a faithless elector is a member of the United States Electoral College who does not vote for the presidential or vice-presidential candidate for whom they had pledged to vote. That is, they break faith with the candidate they were pledged to and vote for another candidate, or fail to vote. A pledged elector is only considered a faithless elector by breaking their pledge; unpledged electors have no pledge to break.

Electors are typically chosen and nominated by a political party or the party’s presidential nominee: they are usually party members with a reputation for high loyalty to the party and its chosen candidate. Thus, a faithless elector runs the risk of party censure and political retaliation from their party, as well as potential legal penalties in some states. Candidates for elector are nominated by state political parties in the months prior to Election Day.” I found this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_elector .

Paul was stating here that Christian leaders should be considered “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God”. (verse 1) Paul then stressed that stewards need to be found faithful. According to the Holman New Testament Commentary on I & II Corinthians, page 60: “Stewards were high-ranking servants entrusted with the oversight of households. They were especially responsible for the management and distribution of household resources.” Paul used this office as an analogy for church leadership because both stewarded the secret things.”

You definitely would want someone trustworthy and faithful to be in charge of your affairs, especially your most closely-held and prized things. So, imagine how hurt a person is when they find someone that they trusted is faithless. I’m sure faithless electors have “lost the trust” of those people who thought that the electors would vote the way that they were elected to (whether that was the right choice or not…this isn’t a discussion about electors, per se). Imaging the brokenness of someone who is not faithful to someone else as they are supposed to be (marriage is the perfect example…the hurt that is felt when that trust is broken).

Thus, Paul’s stressing that a steward should be faithful is the point he makes here to the Corinthian church. Those Christian leaders had been faithful to the cause of Christ, and he wants the church to emulate that same type of faithfulness to Christ, too.

Something to think about, today as well. Like the song states “may all who come behind us find us faithful”.

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Verse 16: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

What does it mean to treat your body, to treat yourself, as a temple of God?

Well, for instance, how convincing is it to watch a physical fitness instructional show, and the “expert” who is supposed to have been doing the exercise all this time…doesn’t look like the exercises did them any good? (Now, I’m not talking about other people behind the instructor who are beginners or intermediates…but you expect the expert to look like that all the physical fitness works!)

In the Scooby-Doo episode “Spooky Space Kook”, the gang was at an abandoned airfield, looking for the outer-space ghost. Shaggy peered into a window of a building that the ghost’s footprints led into. When Fred and Velma asked what he saw in the window, Shaggy said, “Doesn’t matter anyway…the windows are too dirty to see into.”

You’ve often heard me quote that sometimes, “we are the only Jesus some people see”. Being a temple of God, the Lord can’t shine through us without “clean windows”. We are changed by Jesus coming into our lives…do we show it? Unless we let Him “clean the windows” from the inside, He can’t shine through to let everyone see Him in us. (My thanks to my wife for providing that analogy!)

So, are you living for Jesus today? Do others see a temple…or an old building with dirty windows?

Something to think about.

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Verse 9: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.”

The first time our Carpenters for Christ group had heard of the Church of the Brethren, it was on a mission trip to help a COTB church in Erwin, TN. One of the church members was telling us about the history of the church, and said something that struck me interesting. Whereas a lot of us call the building we worship in “the church”, the congregation up there called it “the meeting house”. The church member said it is because the congregation is the church…and he is right.

We may worship in a building, but God’s people are the church. The day after the deadly tornadoes that struck North Alabama some years back, one of our CFC “churches” was worshipping on a slab that was the only thing left of their “meeting house”. But they worshipped and praised God; as I recall, there were even some baptisms that day that had to take place in a church member’s pool!

In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Sometimes it’s good to bring a visitor to the meeting house, but if you can’t bring them to the house, take the church to them! The church is to serve God! We are to be God’s tools to deliver the Gospel and to minister and serve others.

I close today with a good quote from our pastor, Bro. M. R. Hamilton: “if you don’t like the lot in your life…build a service station on it!”

Something to think about.

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