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1 Corinthians 4





In 1 Corinthians chapter 4, we see Paul continuing his firmer and more corrective tone while correcting the Corinthian church. It is important to note that he is not just writing as the current day Christian leader. Apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthian church as “their spiritual father,” after all it was he that led them to Christ. Paul, as their spiritual father, being in prison and having taken beatings for the cause of Christ, had earned the right to correct and discipline those he had led to Christ. Paul really had a way with words and knew how to touch the heart of those he was writing to. Have you ever known someone that had that ability to make you see things differently than you had before?

Now, I know it may be hard to believe but I was not the perfect child growing up. Having lost my dad when I was only 8 years old and my mom was 35, it was really difficult for her to raise such a large family on her own (4 kids still at home). As I grew, it become more apparent that it was easy to take advantage of an exhausted mom and I certainly did that as a masculine 13-year-old “man” and did I ever make things hard for my mom. I will never forget a major turning point in my life when my mom used the power of words to help me see what I was doing and by doing so, created an opportunity for me to change. This day came when my brother and I had a fight and my mom came in to break it up, as she had done so many times before. It was during this time that she fell to her knees, put her hands on her face and started crying uncontrollably. Her first words “I am such a failure…look at what I created…my kids hate each other… I am a terrible mother…it should have been me that died, not Billy” (my dad). Well for two young teenage boys, this was hard to listen to. We all started crying. Seconds before, we were fist fighting, now we are all on the floor huddled together crying and trying to console my mother’s broken heart. It started a change in me and my desire to want to be different. At the time it really wasn’t for me but much more for my mom. Through a bit of a pity party, and while I don’t know today if it was planned out, the Holy Spirit leading her to do this or just a single mom exhausted by the task of raising teenage kids, my mom’s reaction to bad behavior changed everything. It changed the course of my life and I began to see life a bit differently than I did before.

Now, I don’t see Paul taking it to quite the same level as my mom did 45 years ago, but I do see him putting the Corinthians on a guilt trip for how they were acting. Let’s read verses 8–13…

“Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign--and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world--right up to this moment.”

WOW! Talk about a guilt trip…Well, unlike my mom, Paul didn’t stop there. He went on to tell them, “I am not trying to shame you.” Paul was trying to get their attention and warn them as HIS children. He reminded them was their spiritual father and they needed to imitate him.

Paul told them…I am sending Timothy to help show you how to get back on track. Paul also tells them that God willing, he too will come. He gives them a choice; do you want me to come with a rod of discipline or with love and a gentle spirit? God gives us this same choice today. We have a choice as His Church to be complacent, idle, live like kings and spoiled by God’s goodness, or recognize how gifted we are and the abilities we have to reach others for the cause of Christ. Just like Paul said, (imitate me) “I am the example by which you should walk,” we must set examples for others coming into our church, connection groups, places of work and every area of our lives. Do you walk in a way that you want people to imitate your Christian walk? OUCH!

I found it so interesting how God took me back to that day when my mom told us of the failure she was as a parent. It was a reminder to me that it was her verbalizing her broken heart and apparent failure as a parent that helped me to see my own failures as her child. Paul was not the failure, but he really tells it like it is in pointing out their failures, but then comes back to say, hey, you have a choice. You don’t have to live this way and there are repercussions in how you choose.

Just like Paul told them in verses 18-19…”don’t assume I am not coming, God willing I will come and when I do, there are two options. A rod of discipline or I can come with love and gentle spirit, in the same way, Jesus has told us, I am coming back! Praise the Lord! When he comes back this time, it is with great power. There are also two options for us… 1) Depart from me, I never knew you or 2) well done though good and faithful servant.” Let this be a reminder to all of us today, we cannot forget why we are here. We must not only go to church and say we are Christians, but we must imitate Him while doing so. Let’s be about our Father's business!

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Jul 11, 2023

The insight & clarity in today’s message brings forth an eye opening reality to meditate on. Thank you for sharing your personal story & how it relates to Gods word, and to do all we can to imitate Christ.

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