1 Corinthians 4
The life story of Paul is always a fascinating read. Bad guy turned good. And it even has a cool name change from Saul to Paul. But more importantly it’s a story about how God used our brokenness and yet found a beautiful way to restore us and give us a purpose through Him. And throughout his letters it is evident that God was working through him. There is nothing that Paul did to deserve being “put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries.” (1 Corinthians 4:1) The important part is that he answered the call and gave God all the glory – as He deserves.
Paul makes it clear that his desire is to visit Corinth again. But he tells them that when he gets there they will inevitably receive praise or discipline from him. Because while he was away they were either following God or they weren’t. In the same way, everything we do either brings us closer to God or pushes us away. The Corinthians were given a chance to turn from their sin and follow God. Paul warns them to change before they have to face the consequences of their choices. We may never have Paul sending us emails or posting his wisdom on Instagram but we still have the same choice as the Corinthians 2000 years later. And thankfully God still has other ways to communicate with us and warn us when we find ourselves going down a slippery slope. Whether through our conscience, a godly mentor, or even a timeless letter from good ol’ Paul. Thankfully we can read the same words that Paul wrote to the Corinthians and we have a chance to learn from them.
God is love. But we often forget this attribute is still being displayed when it’s time to be disciplined. He loves us enough to warn us countless times when we choose to walk down the wrong path. His justice and love compliment each other in ways that we cannot understand. But we can know for certain that God loves us and has our eternal interest in mind. He wants us to be in His Kingdom, but we ultimately have to make the decision to accept God’s gift of eternal life.
The concept of Paul sending Timothy whom he refers to as his beloved and faithful child in the Lord is strikingly similar to God sending His only begotten Son Jesus, on behalf of Him. The connection between Paul and his mentee Timothy makes me think about the nature of the relationship between God and Jesus. Since Paul was preaching the message to other cities he sent Timothy ahead of him to Corinth to continue his ministry. In a similar way, since God is not able to be in the presence of sinful humans (aka the earth) he sent a man, His Son, Jesus to represent God. Jesus’ mission from his father was to proclaim the gospel (the name of Jesus and the message of the Kingdom of God) and die on the cross for the sins of the world. This ultimately will eventually allow God to come to the earth after the earth has been judged from its sin. The big picture shows the importance of being on the right side, God’s side. So learn from God’s discipline now before the world is judged for not following God.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- How is discipline an important part of God’s love? Where have you seen or witnessed his discipline and justice at work for good?
- Who has God sent to reveal/explain His mysteries to you? To whom can you share what you have learned and how you live?
- If Paul were to be writing to you and your church, or even stopping in to visit this Sunday morning – what words do you think he would bring?