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Verses 3-4: “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

My wife attended a Christian high school, and she recalled a lesson she learned in class about God’s design for marriage. The speaker in the class described what would happen if you took 2 sheets of notebook paper and glued them together. After drying sufficiently, if you attempted to separate the papers, you couldn’t do so without tearing them. Each paper would wind up, at best, tearing off part of the other piece of paper, when they were able to be separated at all. You might say each sheet owned the other.

Obviously a great object lesson in “the two becoming one”. However, it also demonstrates the destructiveness of divorce. That’s why it is so important to enter marriage seriously and thoughtfully, putting God first in the relationship. Remember, it is God Who created marriage, and He meant it to last a lifetime. Husbands and wives today would do well to remember the above verses. If each partner in the relationship took seriously the “ownership” of each other, they would better strive to protect and to nurture that union. Marriage also is an analogy to Jesus Christ and the church; remember, He paid a huge price to buy our redemption and salvation; we need to remember as Christians just Who really should be “calling the shots” in our daily lives.

Something to think about.

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Verses 18-20: “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

I went to a military academy for high school. As a cadet officer, I worked in the office of the active-duty enlisted sergeants who were assigned as instructors at the academy. In working with them and talking with them, I learned a good many things, not the least of which was “don’t get into trouble”. We had one cadet, though, whose name was Jose; the sergeants liked him, despite his many times of breaking academy rules. One of them told me one day why Jose getting into trouble was different from other cadets getting into trouble. “It’s because he only gets himself in trouble, ” Sarge said. “He doesn’t pin the blame on anyone else, he doesn’t get others in trouble with him. The knucklehead only gets himself in trouble. Now, he’ll serve his punishment and pay his dues…and he’ll still go right back and do something bone-headed and get himself in trouble again. But he never drags anyone down with him.”

Paul hear states that “every sin that a man does is outside the body”…except for sexual immorality, which involves contaminating the body that Jesus bought “with a price”. When you buy something, you own it…it is yours! When we ask Jesus into our hearts, we surrender ourselves to His Lordship…soul, mind, and body. Why then would you do something to the body that belongs to someone else? Bad enough that you may damage your own possession, but damage something that is not yours?

Paul encourages the church to “glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”. We might be the only witness for Christ that a lost person may see; don’t damage the impression you would leave on them.

Something to think about.

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Verse 7: “Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another,. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?”

In our society, we’re taught and trained to win. Compete as hard as you can, show no weakness, go for the win. But the following story at this Reader’s Digest link is a heart-warming story about a football team that chose to give up a victory because it was the right thing to do. Read this story for yourself at https://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/football-team-loses-on-purpose/ .

Why would Paul encourage the brethren at Corinth to just accept the wrong and not take their brother to court? Because it was the right thing to do. Defeating a fellow Christian and church member in a lawsuit wouldn’t further the church’s witness in the community. It would only hurt it. It was better, in Paul’s advice, to just accept the wrong, to let themselves be cheated, than to bring dishonor to the name of Jesus Christ. Remember, the world is watching. Sometimes, you have to “take one for the team” to ultimately win.

Something to think about.

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Verse 6: “But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!”

On Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., there is a form of entertainment that each of the 2 main political parties love. That’s when there is “in-fighting” amongst a party, especially when it spills out into the public media. Whether it’s moderates vs progressives in the Democratic party or pro-Trump vs anti-Trump in the Republican party, the other side has a field day to see bickering amongst its rivals. It is a sad state of affairs; we should be able to have differences, yet act like adults to take care of the business of the nation. And even when there are differences, we should be able to resolve them before they blow up out of proportion.

The devil gets a similar “kick” out of seeing Christians argue with each other. What is worse, the Corinthian church members were going to court against each other, instead of settling their differences in a Biblical manner (go personally, if that doesn’t work take a friend, if that doesn’t work bring it before the church). Paul was questioning why they were doing this; even today, it seems like our television and Internet airwaves are chock-full of lawyer commercials. Paul was encouraging them to act like they are set apart from the world (because they are the church), not act like the world!

Something to think about.

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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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