Proverbs 1-2 1 Corinthians 16
“You know that the family of Stephanas were the first believers in Southern Greece and that they have given themselves to the service of God’s people. I ask you, brothers and sisters, to follow the leading of people like these and anyone else who works and serves with them.” (1 Corinthians 16:15-16 NCV)
As Paul wrapped up this letter, he reminded the Corinthians to keep giving to support God’s people as God has blessed them. If I may add to that, my wife and I give a percentage of what God blesses us with, and, if we’re blessed with even more financial support, we give over and above that percentage. You decided for yourself how He wants you to give, but He wants you to give. Then he let them know his plans, and the plans of those leaders associated with him and the church. Finally, he closed the letters by greeting some of the followers in the church by name. Interestingly enough, he gave a ringing endorsement to Stephanas – suggesting that the Christians in Corinth follow him and others who work with him. It’s especially interesting to note that when Paul gave this affirmation, he was taking sides in a church torn apart by controversy.
Sometimes fellow Christians will disagree. That will happen. If it goes on too long, God’s people need to find a way to end the disagreement, so the church can move forward with the message of the gospel. In this case, Paul stepped up and told the church, “this is the guy to follow.” In recent years, we’ve seen many situations where churches had disputes and they went on so long that the churches eventually split with both churches obviously feeling like they were in the right. We see individual churches and major denominations arguing about serious issues where emotions run high. In some cases, the problems revolve around criminal behavior and how to deal with it. Individual churches can look for a trusted advisor in the denomination, but when denominations are involved in civil war, unless a person that both sides agree is trustworthy steps up to intervene, the end result will not be good. Sometimes that happens with individuals when they get out of sorts with each other. If they could find a trusted friend, or a counselor, disputes could be settled. Sometimes it will be clear that one side is right, and the other side is wrong. Sometimes compromise will be needed. If our ultimate goal is proclaiming the gospel, instead of being found right, we can overcome a lot of disputes with prayer, conversation, and a little help from our friends.
Oh Lord, when I have disputes with others, give me wisdom. When I’m wrong, help me to admit it. When I’m right, help me to be gracious. When compromise is needed, help me to seek wise counsel and bring about peace for the sake of the gospel. Let me life be such an example of Your love that others will seek my counsel when needed.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.