In our first part under this topic, we learnt that the Lord has instituted His church with certain organizational structure which includes ‘Church Discipline’, operated through pastors, elders and deacons to counsel, rebuke, correct and guide us towards righteousness. In this passage, we learn how church discipline shouldn’t be practiced, and also what kind of response should we display when the elders, pastors and deacons work to restore our joy in the Lord.
In our Society, the affinity towards people of similar language, social status, culture or ethnicity is very high. We’re often seen associating with people who look like us in every way. Sadly, this is a similar practice that is seen even among churches. But this does not reflect the oneness or the unity that God has designed to reflect in the society, especially when Christians fail to display love and unity among themselves. Jesus Christ died for the sins of not just one particular culture, but for the sins of every culture, tribe and tongue in this world, so that we may all be one in Christ. In this passage, we learn how we should practice Christian Fellowship in a loving and sacrificial way, especially with those who are very different from us.
We start helping out each other and show acts of mercy during natural disasters, calamities and famine. This is a natural response of human beings because we are all made in the image of God; we still exhibit certain character traits that display kindness, sacrifice and generosity during difficult times. But the struggle to survive is not just against physical powers but also spiritual. There is sin in all of us that we need to fight against. So, what kind of character traits should a christian show forth in the church and in the world especially in times of spiritual adversity? Listen to the sermon to learn the marks of a healthy Christian.
The gift of tongues in the Bible always referred to foreign human languages. God’s servants and His apostles were given special authority and power through the Holy Spirit to speak in foreign languages which they have not learned, for the sake of advancing the gospel in other parts of the world. In the Corinthian church, people were misusing this gift of tongues to elevate themselves as super spiritual Christians appearing to have high status in God’s sight than those who don’t speak in tongues. In this passage, we see how the apostle Paul handles this tension and discrimination in the church and the solution he provides.
Spiritual gifts are primarily given to Christians for the benefit and the edification of the church, so that the church might be blessed with all the necessary resources through the gifts of God’s people. But it is possible for Christians to boast about themselves and their gifts and not serve others through their gifts. It is possible to make the gifts an end in themselves and not have a greater purpose. In this passage, we learn that spiritual gifts only serve to strengthen others and love people because the gifts are temporary but Love is not.
Christians are called to reflect the character of God. This passage lists out various characteristics which believers need to exhibit. In the last part of this section, we see how love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but in truth. Love also forebears all things when someone sins against us, because God has been forbearing towards us when we sin against Him. Gospel becomes the foundation on which we relate to other people in love.
There are many ways we can be rude to others, for example when we’re not grateful to others for the service they have rendered, or we interrupt people when they’re speaking to us, or we ignore someone when they approach us. We can also irritate or hurt people when we say insensitive things. We often talk about love in radical and heroic terms and how we fail in those areas, but our failure to love can also be seen in small ways as mentioned earlier. In this passage, we learn how rudeness, self-obsession, and being provocative hinders us from loving others.
Jealousy is unhealthy craving of those things which the other person has, but envy is being astonished and feeling bitter towards a person who possesses something which you badly want. These two emotions are just two sides of the same coin. In this passage, we learn how envy, covetousness and pride poisons us and hinders our fellowship with God and His people.
Our culture paints a picture of love only in terms of sexual attraction and romantic feeling. But according to the Bible, love is more than a feeling. It is primarily an action, it speaks effectively through actions. In this passage, the Apostle Paul confronts our wrong and distorted notions of love.
What if your hand says that there is no need of a leg? This question sounds absurd at various levels because it is impossible for a hand to function well if there’s no leg. Every part of a human body is interdependent with each other. Similarly, in this passage the Apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of preserving the diversity of the church because that’s how God intended His church to be.