Paul and the Corinthians (Day 7)

Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
   Paul urged the Corinthians to think of him, and Apollos as mere servants of Christ entrusted with the secret things of God. A servant does what his master tells him to do. We must do what God tells us to do in the Bible and through His Holy Spirit. Each day God presents us with needs and opportunities that challenge us to do what we know is right. 
   It is tempting to judge fellow Christians, evaluating whether or not they are good followers of Christ. But only God knows a person’s heart, and He is the only one with the right to judge. Paul’s warning to the Corinthians should also warn us. We are to confront those who are sinning, but we must not judge who is a better servant for Christ. When you judge someone, you invariably consider yourself better: and that is arrogant. 
   How easy it is for us to become attached to a spiritual leader. When someone has helped us, it’s natural to feel loyalty. But Paul warns against having such pride in our favorite leaders that we cause divisions in the church. Any true spiritual leader is a representative of Christ and has nothing to offer that God hasn’t given him or her. Don’t let your loyalty cause strife, slander, or broken relationships. Make sure that your deepest loyalties are to Christ and not to His human agents. Those who spend more time in debating church leadership than in declaring Christ’s message don’t have the mind of Christ. 
   The Corinthians had split into various cliques, each following its favorite preacher. Each clique really believed it was the only one to have the whole truth and thus felt spiritually proud. But Paul told the groups not to boast about being tied to a particular preacher, because each preacher was simply a humble servant who had suffered for the same message of salvation in Jesus Christ. No preacher of God has more status than another. 
   Paul had a special role as the Corinthians’ spiritual father. In an attempt to unify the church, Paul appealed to his relationship with them. By father, he meant he was the church’s founder. Because he started the church, he could be trusted to have its best interests at heart. Paul’s tough words were motivated by love: like the love of a good father has for his children (1 Thessalonians 2). 
   Paul told the Corinthians to follow his example. He was able to make this statement because he walked close to God, spent time in God’s Word and in prayer, and was aware of God’s presence in his life at all times. God was Paul’s example; therefore, Paul’s life could be an example to other Christians. Paul wasn’t expecting others to imitate everything he did, but they should imitate those aspects of his beliefs and conduct that were modeling Christ’s way of living. 
   Timothy had traveled with Paul on Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 16) and was a key person in the growth of the early church. Timothy probably did not deliver this letter to Corinth but more likely arrived there shortly after the letter came. Timothy’s role was to see that Paul’s advice was read and implemented. Then he was to return to Paul and report on the church’s progress. 
   It is not known whether Paul ever returned to Corinth, but it is likely. In 2 Corinthians 2:1, he writes that he decided not to make another painful visit, implying that he had had a previous painful confrontation with the Corinthian believers (2 Corinthians 12 and 13). 
   Some people talk a lot about faith, but that’s all it is: talk. They may know all the right words to say, but their lives don’t reflect God’s power. Paul says that the kingdom of God is to be lived, not just discussed. There is a big difference between knowing the right words and living them out. Don’t be content to have the right answers about Christ. Let your life show that God’s power is really working in you.