“Oh Lord, there is sooooo much pride in our hearts! We are so easily offended! My heart. My pride. My arrogance. Our sin is so pervasive and close to the surface. How can we even say that we are yours? Is there anything that can twist us so wretchedly and reveal the deep ugliness of our sin than when our pride is dented!? The bitterness of heart, how we shun fairness and grace in order to justify our judgments, and the slow and long burning fires of resentment and revenge that are ignited and stoked when our pride is dinged and inflamed. Lord have mercy.”
These are just a few of the reflections I’ve written down as I’ve meditated on 1st Corinthians 4. It has been humbling and convicting. If we are to be followers of Jesus Christ, 1st Corinthians 4 is a passage we should read before we respond to any disagreement, conflict, or insult (perceived or actual). That’s to say, we should read it often and on our knees. If you don’t start 1st Corinthians 4 on your knees, you’ll end up there when you are done. If you don’t, you’ve either missed its meaning, hardened your heart to a dangerous degree, or you don’t actually know Jesus Christ at all.
I encourage you to take some time to read and reflect on 1st Corinthians 4 now, this week, and regularly – before you respond to any disagreement, conflict, or insult (perceived or actual). Given our ongoing struggles with sin, it’s probably safe to say we’ll need to revisit 1st Corinthians 4 to lead us into repentance after we’ve blown it and responded poorly. A few brief pointers to help orientate you to the passage:
- The partisan division in the church in Corinth have included criticism and judgements against Paul. Paul here is acknowledging and responding to that.
- Paul was an Apostle. I am not an Apostle. Neither are you. So, we need to be careful how we apply God’s Word here!
- Yes, Paul uses some sarcasm and irony in this passage – that is something that God, in his Word, does occasionally resort to in situations where our hearts have become hardened – especially by pride and self-righteousness. When God brings out that hammer, his goal is to break our bondage to sin and provoke repentance and restoration.
- One of the tests of whether we actually know Jesus Christ and have received his grace is humility, deference to others, and how we respond to conflict and insults.
- God is the one and only judge. Judgement Day is coming. We need to wait for that Day. And we need to remember that God judges our hearts, minds, attitudes, and actions too.
- We are servants of Christ. He is the one that we serve. I need to serve him and focus on that above all else.
- When it comes to many, many things and issues, we too often have too much certainty that our opinions are correct. We need to be more humble.
- Our pride can really twist us and reveal the dark and destructive ugliness of our sin.
I look forward to crawling and clinging to the Cross of Christ together this Sunday. I also look forward to being together renewed, restored, and lifted up by the grace and mercy of God as he draws us to himself in worship.
Yours in Christ,