Paul was about 50 years old when he entered Corinth as a tradesman making tents. By going into business with the already successful Aquila and Priscilla, Paul was able to support himself while funding his missionary work. Corinth was a wealthy seaside city in Greece with a reputation of being progressively promiscuous. There were abundant schools of philosophy and the arts. Paul spent about 18 months preaching the good news and teaching the citizens of Corinth how to live in holiness. As a prominent Greek City, the Corinthians worshipped Venus, a goddess of pleasure. The city also had a large population of orthodox Jews who were not easily persuaded that a man that died on a cross was the Messiah! The Greek influenced Gentiles also held contempt for any belief that was based on something that was not proven scientifically. It was hard for the intelligent to embrace the teaching of a Messiah coming out of a poor, unschooled village like Nazareth.
After Paul moved on, disturbing reports of chaos in the church of Corinth reached him. The new believers had lost sight of God in the midst of all the ongoing moral corruption in the city. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians powerfully addresses the importance of who we all were before Christ, and who we are “in Christ”. Paul remembers vividly who he was before God smacked him blind! “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.” (1:26) To the Jew, such a sign of weakness did not match their understanding of prophecy. Many followers of Christ today also tend to idolize the success of a large church, rather than the Head of the Church.
With affection, Paul’s words are firm yet compassionate. He reminds believers of God’s unchanging authority and commands. There were arguments about the various teachings. Conflicting messages between the teachers led to divisions in the church. The new believers were confused about whom to follow. Paul’s first letter ended their confusion by telling them to follow the teachings of Jesus, not man. “For I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Paul asked: “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1:18)
Our minds become perverted by our self-admiration of what intelligence we collect from the world. The sinful nature of man is not easily defeated without capturing every thought. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Paul articulates about the three voices. 1) Believers are not to depend or rely on what others think and say about them. 2) Believers are not to trust their own understanding. 3) Believers must listen to God alone. Life is NOT easier without constructive criticism. God alone has the right to judge of us all because we all live in the world He created. “It is the Lord who judges me.” (4:4) Jesus paid a great price to purchase us. We are His, and He is ours. All the rules of the Old Testament have been replaced with grace and discernment. “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (6:12) We are called to walk by faith and in confidence into chapter 12 which outlines the various spiritual gifts. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.” All the giftings from God are how the Holy Spirit accomplishes our Father’s plan through us. The Spirit gives those gifts just as He determines. We are all wired differently for His purpose. (12:11)
What is faith? (Hebrews 11:1) We surely move by FAITH in what we HOPE for, as we are CERTAIN of Who we cannot see, for we KNOW that God is with us. AMEN! The next big question our Father answers; what is love? Love is not blind, for God sees us! God is love and He is present as our invited guest at weddings, baptisms, and each morning that we arise. However, without the Holy Spirit abiding in us, people tend to lose sight about what or who genuine love is: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all the mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (13)
Jesus is patient, kind, never rude, not easily angered and He keeps no records of wrongs. He always protects, always sees us as He created us, and He always hopes that we rely on Him. Jesus perseveres in His pursuit of us, always!
Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Alley Hoyle.
All rights reserved.
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“It is finished.” 4/22/19