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1 Corinthians 11-14


A Devotional Journey 
    led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
                In chapter 11, Paul gets into a discussion of worship.  It is interesting to notice how the discussion moves naturally from a refusal to participate in the worship of idols to an insistence that the worship of God must be done in the proper spirit and the proper way.
                Paul’s concern regarding the Lord’s Supper focuses on selfishness.  It is the height of irony that those called together to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice made by God Himself on our behalf would, in the very process, take advantage of other Christians and think only of themselves in the process.  Since Corinthian slaves attending the evening worship services would often by late (as a result of having to finish duties for their masters), those who were not slaves could arrive earlier and eat all the available food served as part of the gathering.  This meant that those who might most need something to eat (slaves were not always treated well) would have no opportunity to meet that need.  In addition, because the early arrivals were so involved in eating and drinking, some of them were actually becoming drunk.  Paul clearly condemns this conduct and announces that God’s punishment has already come upon some of those who are guilty.
                Chapters 12-14 form a unit.  The subject of spiritual gifts arises out of the disorder in worship being caused by those with a gift of tongues.  Paul begins by describing the importance of spiritual gifts and the equal value of each.  He goes on to insist that the Holy Spirit is the only one who can decide which person receives which gift and that no one should either covet or trivialize anyone else’s gift.  In fact, Paul concludes, when one member of the body of Christ suffers, all suffer with him/her, and when any member succeeds, all succeed as well.
                Still, Paul insists, the greatest gift of all is not tongues or miracles, but love.  Repeating this refrain both at the end of chapter 12 and the beginning of chapter 14, he makes clear that any sense of pride in the more sensational gifts is futile as the true purpose of all spiritual gifts (and the Christian life as a whole) is to express the love of God (who is Himself defined by this attribute – see 1 John).
                In chapter 14, Paul makes the final point that the purpose of Christian worship is to draw attention to God not individual believers, and that it is therefore better to speak just a few words that have immediate and clear impact than 10,000 words which are uncertain to those without a gift of interpretation and which may actually interrupt the flow of worship itself.
                Paul does not disparage the gift of tongues, he simply makes clear the fact that other gifts are more important and that certainly not all Christians need such a gift.
                What is your spiritual gift?  Do you have more than one?  How are you using your time, talent and resources to serve God?  How are you using your life to encourage others?  How is God using you to build up and establish His Church?
                Today, make a commitment to do something that helps your church grow in some way.  God will help you grow in the process.
© A.  Eugene Pearson