Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 14-16
We are always looking to see how we can do things better at work. Over and over again, we ask the question, “Are we meeting our mission?” We focus on organizational health and the importance of having cohesive teams. Paul spent some time doing the same thing for the Church in Corinth. He gave them lots of great advice on how to have a healthy church and how to be the body of Christ. So, as we finish our study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, here is Paul’s advice for the Church:
You must show your appreciation to all who serve so well. – 1 Corinthians 16:18b
APPRECIATE YOUR LEADERS
The Church should take care of the financial needs of those called into full-time ministry but those called should not serve for any kind of earthly reward or favor, but should do it for God and for the eternal prize.
The Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it…Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News! If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. – 1 Corinthians 9:14-18a
SERVE WITH PURPOSE
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So RUN TO WIN! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
How easy it would be for us to take our eyes off the One who has called us and focus on ourselves or the Church or those around us who disappoint. What a great reminder this morning – I do what God has called me to do because I am compelled by God to do it. If God has called me, He will equip me. God, forgive me when I start simply going through the motions and ministry becomes routine. Lord, I want to run to win, run with purpose, run with my eyes focused on you.
STAND STRONG AGAINST TEMPTATION
I want to drink from the spiritual rock who is Christ. Paul used the example of the people of Israel to encourage the Church to not be tempted by sexual immorality or be tempted to grumble. No matter what comes our way, we can stand strong – not of our own strength but on the solid rock of Jesus.
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. – 1 Corinthians 15:58
USE YOUR WORDS TO STRENGTHEN OTHERS
Paul takes time in Chapter 14 to address the difference between speaking in tongues and prophesying, knowing this would be an opportunity for conflict and disagreement in the church. All of his explanation is based on the idea of making love our highest goal (14:1) – that everything done in the Church be done to strengthen everyone (14:26).
A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church. I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened. – 1 Corinthians 14:4-5
If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying?…
For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying…
But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language. – 1 Corinthians 14:9,14,19
I would never want my words to cause confusion or distract others from the worship of God taking place in the sanctuary. Lord, let the words of my mouth come only from YOU, building others up and encouraging them as they walk with you.
Here is some more advice from Paul as he closes his first letter to the Church in Corinth:
On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. – 1 Corinthians 16:2a
LET LOVE STRENGTHEN THE CHURCH
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Greet each other with Christian love. – 1 Corinthians 16:20b