In a world where whatever feels good is becoming acceptable what are you doing to tip the scales back the other way? Our culture is looking more and more like Rome’s before the fall. At that point in time, some Christians deemed unbiblical behavior acceptable. Paul’s letters to the various churches point this out very plainly. Today, all we have to do is take a quick glance, possibly in our bathroom mirrors, and we can see this happening again.
What is our responsibility to ourselves and others? No one leads a perfect sinless life. The battle begins anew each and everyday and our response to culture not only sets a course for our life but also for those around us. One of my favorite analogies for this is that in all things we have a choice to be the thermostat or the thermometer. The thermostat sets/controls the temperature of the room. The thermometer follows the temperature of the room. Which one are you?
We have an obligation to honor God in all we do, not only for our own good but for the good of those who are watching.
1 Corinthians 8:13 – Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
I recently had a conversation with someone at our church. We were discussing some of our community outreach endeavors and that at a couple of them a message was given to the group in attendance. I have been privileged to deliver this message quite a few times. It’s nothing lengthy or complicated, just a short biblical message. I was surprised when he asked me, (paraphrasing) if my desire was to be a pastor.
In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul speaks on the topic of marriage and service to the church. This chapter is somewhat controversial in that he surmised that we can better serve God without the distractions and responsibilities of marriage. However, he goes on to say that whatever our circumstance in that regard, we are exactly where God wants us. This is true for everyone, in all circumstance. Meaning we can be of service to God by accepting that wherever we are in life, it’s right where he needs us at that time. Even in our darkest moments God can and will use us.
In regard to the question that was asked of me, to be honest I have thought about that a time or two. However, God has shown me that I can proclaim the freedom we find in Jesus wherever I am, regardless of a title. Right now, I understand and am thankful that I am exactly where he needs me and regardless of your circumstance, so are you, Trust in Jesus!
1 Corinthians 7:17 – Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches
We live in a very litigious society. Everybody is suing everybody for anything under the sun. We have countless TV programs where we can tune in to watch people suing another. It is quite literally a spectacle.
In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul speaks to the Corinthian church asking the question, “why are you suing one another before a non-Christian court?” The broader question here is, why are you suing one another at all? This is something we too should ponder. From a point of context, there’s a lot that goes into this consideration. However, in it’s simplest form Paul is asking, why aren’t you as Christians, working through this on your own? Why are we so quick to pull the trigger on litigation when more times than not, the only ones who win are the lawyers?
I’m blessed to work for a company that is doing exactly what Paul is asking us to do, The Good Contractors List. As part of our service, if a problem arises, we provide free mediation between our contractors and homeowners. Our goal in this process is to bring the two back together, not to further divide them. I’m proud that we work to restore these relationships. Many times the impasse is something small that escalated quickly. This happens in our own lives all of the time. What Paul is asking us to consider and act on, is our compassion and thoughtful reasoning in working through issues with our fellow man. As Christians, if we can’t do this who will? 1 Corinthians 6:7a – To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you
I often speak of what I call God’s Humor. One such example is the correlation of certain illness and unaddressed sin in the church. Recently our office has received a visit from the virus that causes “pink eye”. Someone’s child contracted it, then her mother got it, then another co-worker and now the zombie apocalypse has began, well not quite but you get the point. Viruses are relentless and can spread like wildfire if precautions aren’t taken to prevent them.
Paul addresses the issue of sin in the Corinthian church by pointing out that those who are allowing it to continue are just as guilty. Unaddressed sin becomes acceptable behavior in a blink of an eye. Just look at what we now tolerate and accept that even ten years ago was completely unacceptable. The sin is bad enough but the sin of one man compared to the complacent unwillingness to address it by the body, is more harmful. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Not much to add to this other than we all have a responsibility in this. 1 Corinthians 5:6 – Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
The story of Rocky Balboa is one that many of us can relate to. A simple man overcoming the odds to reach great heights. In the third installment, Rocky now an established world champion, is seen living the good life and in all honesty, leaving behind the hard work and humility that was at the soul of his accomplishment. In doing so he faces a hungry adversary that was determined to take away the championship Rocky had become complacent with. He was warned by his long time trainer Mickey that if he didn’t get back to the basics it wasn’t going to end well.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church he is issuing a warning that they were straying from the roots of the church that he established. The church had indeed grown and in doing so they had become boastful of who they were. This led to division and judgement among the ranks. Paul speaks to his ministry and how it really hadn’t changed that much. He was a man of worldly poverty but rich in his quest to reach others for Christ. He remained keenly focused on others with little regard to his personal standing.
Back to Rocky, as he was preparing for this fight he left behind the things that made him a champion. He traded the modest gym for a Las Vegas Casino. The hard work was replaced with casual exhibition to further his brand. As Mickey warned, Rocky wasn’t prepared for the fight and his determined foe made quick work of taking the title away from him.
There are many “successful” ministries/churches that began in modesty who today tout extravagant facilities. This acts to draw people in but rarely does anything to further discipleship, which has been and will always be, job one. This also applies to the individual. We must be mindful that we don’t view ourselves as “better Christians”, more qualified than others. Our focus should always be looking to first serve and then lead others to Christ through his love.
1 Corinthians 4:1 – This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
s there such thing as a carnal Christian? Paul brings this question in 1Corinthians 3. I’m in no position to render an answer to that but the thought I draw from this is that it’s more a question of wisdom. Paul addresses the Corinthians as “babes in Christ”. If this is true then Yes, Paul considers them to be Christians. In using the word ‘babes” and the phraseology surrounding it, he also seems to say they have much to learn. To that I would say “don’t we all”!
I’ve recently read a few articles/ Facebook posts about some pretty hot topics as they relate to Christians. One subject in particular seems to be a religious volleyball, the LGBT community. This is NOT a cut and dried topic. As Christians we must view this lifestyle as a sin, if not we might as well just shut down the whole operation. Keeping this in mind, above all else, we must still love our neighbor.
In applying the question of wisdom who is the wiser? The LGBT individual that has a heart for Jesus or the Christians who “secretly sin” but hold proverbial stones ready to throw? I guess the answer is none of the above …… as both still choose to sin. The only litmus test for Christians that I know of is, are you growing closer to Christ or do you continue to deny the grace and healing he offers? Is your wisdom born of him or what the world is wanting you to believe. That was Paul’s point then and it remains for us to answer to today. 1 Corinthians 3:1 – But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.
And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, ~ 1 Corinthians 2:3
These words were spoken by Paul, one of God’s most faithful servants, a man who is responsible for spreading the message of Jesus throughout the world, yet here he proclaims fear in testifying God’s word.
I have been witness to many people that I know have a heart for God as well as a story to tell but yet don’t feel equipped to do so. This could be something as simple as praying in front of others but yet they don’t do it out of fear they aren’t qualified and/or might say the wrong thing.
Back to Paul who was more than qualified to speak and debate any topic of his day. He was an educated Roman citizen and a studied Jewish man but he purposely put the wisdom of man aside to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. In doing so he allowed the Holy Spirit to work through him to reach others.
We are always at our best when we rely on God to work through us. When we use our logic and our ways, his message can become distorted. When we put ourselves in a position of reliance on Him, rather than ourselves, his message always comes to light. If today you doubt you’re qualifications to speak to the gift salvation you have experienced, then I say congratulations you have all you need to begin sharing it with others, in Him!
1 Corinthians 2:2 – For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
As Paul concluded his letter to the Romans he mentions by name those in Rome that have been an integral part of the Church there. He thanks them for their service and sacrifice to spread the gospel, asking that these people are given the respect their contributions deserve. However there was one name he mentions in a different vein. Romans 16:10b- Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Why doesn’t it read, “Greet Aristobulus and his family”? The thought here is that Aristobulus was not a believer but his family was. Since he was the head of the house he is named but only for the purpose of identification, not in the reverence that the other names were mentioned.
Unfortunately this is a scenario that we see far too often in the church today. Mothers and children attend church while fathers choose not to. We wonder why the church, nay this country, isn’t as strong as it once was and it’s staring us right in the face. Men are not leading their families in the way that God has called us to.
Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Every once in a while men need a good gut check, so here goes. Are you leading your family as you have been called to? Do you stay at home while the rest of your family is seeking a relationship with Christ. Regardless of how you see it each and everyday you are setting an example for your family. Don’t be a “do as I say, not as I do” leader. Be a man that sets the bar for your family to follow.
1 Peter 5:3 – Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
At our core we are selfish minded people. There’s not a day that goes by where we don’t think and/or act on the “what about me” principal. I was listening to Dennis Prager the other day who was speaking on this very subject. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Prager he is one of the most clear thinkers of our time, a modern day philosopher. He was discussing Happiness and how we make a choice to be happy. When challenged by a caller about this being relevant or even possible, he pointed to the example of going to work every day. There are many who love their job, myself included but given a choice we would prefer not to get up early and go to work, but for the most part we all do. We choose to go to work, we choose to be happy.
It comes down to the question of what’s best for us? Paul brilliantly makes this argument in Romans 15. When we invest in acts of selfishness we see two things, a fast payoff and what I’ll call “buyers remorse”. In other words, satisfaction gained through selfish acts is short lived and rarely meaningful. Paul urges us to invest in others and points to the cumulative affect of doing so.
Romans 15:4 – For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. David Guzik sums this up very well in his commentary; This goes against the whole tenor of our times, which counsels people to “look out for number 1” and despises those who live lives of real sacrifice for the sake of others. Yet, undeniably Paul points the way to true happiness and fulfillment in life – get your eyes off of yourself, start building up others and you will find yourself built up.
We truly must choose to die to our selfish desires and put others needs before our own. It’s tough, but meaningful things are rarely uninvolved. Are you looking for more meaning in your life? Is happiness a struggle for you? If so, take Paul’s instruction to heart and a meaningful life isn’t far behind. Romans 15:2 – Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Over the last year we have seen our country divided by the political process. I can’t remember a time when it was this vociferous. Friendships have been broken, harsh words spoken to people we don’t even know. I’ve been guilty of this. Social media provides a platform for things we probably wouldn’t say in person. We all become a little more brave hiding behind a keyboard.
Not to ignore such differences but don’t we still have much more in common than where we differ? I choose to believe this and the hope that I have in Christ tells me it is so.
In Romans 14 Paul speaks of the petty differences in religious eating practices that were used to defame one another in his day. He also infers that this led to further judgement of other religious practices. The context of these words is based on religious differences but I believe Jesus would have us extend this to all people and circumstance. Regardless of what side of any issue you’re on we’re called to rise above. We must consciously choose to extend the branch of acceptance and peace. Romans 14:19 – So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.