Psalm 107-109 1 Corinthians 4
“Even to this very hour we do not have enough to eat or drink or to wear. We are often beaten, and we have no homes in which to live. We work hard with our own hands for our food. When people curse us, we bless them. When they hurt us, we put up with it. When they tell evil lies about us, we speak nice words about them. Even today, we are treated as though we were the garbage of the world—the filth of the earth.” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13 NCV)
When you read Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, it’s important to remember that many of the teachings are Paul’s answers to questions or statements of the Corinthians. Sometimes Paul seems to make outlandish statements but understood in the context of the dialogue between Paul and the Corinthian Church, they’re understandable. I think the most outlandish statements come when Paul repeats what the Corinthians said. As we read through this section. It’s pretty clear that the Corinthians were measuring the power of their faith by looking at their wealth and talking about how their wisdom allowed them such great stuff.
In response to the urging of the Corinthians for Paul to live his best life now, he prepared them for life lived under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Corinthians may have had the best clothes and the finest foods, Paul let them know that they were hungry, with, perhaps, threadbare clothes. They may have gone to the best parties; Paul and his posse were beaten and homeless. In short, when the Corinthians bragged about their faith and how well God was taking care of them, which Paul reminded them shouldn’t happen, Paul noted that he, as an apostle, dealt with just the opposite situation and suffered all kinds of abuse. And he blessed, he ministered, and cared for the very people who abused him. Paul wouldn’t get along well with many who claim the name of Christ here in the United States. We, like the Corinthians, exalt wealth and worldly success, imagining them always to be a sign of God’s blessings. We exalt big name pastors who have great wealth because of their personal followings and look down on local church pastors. Even more so, we really wonder about those who, like Paul, are bi-vocational pastors. You’d think that in such a rich land as America that anyone sharing about God would live in plenty. The Corinthians thought that and bragged about it while putting Paul down. The greatest blessings of God aren’t things and don’t consist of worldly riches. The greatest blessings of God come from our daily walk with him and the impact we have on the lives of others for Jesus Christ. Some gain worldly wealth doing that. Others give up all they have in order to be able to share the gospel. They understand the true blessings of God.
Lord, remind me that the greatest blessings in life come from my relationship with You. Give me guidance so that I can continue to share Your love and grace with others. Help me to return good when I’m confronted with evil. Help me to return love to those who would attack me and my belief in You.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved