Friday in the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 4:8-21

Growing to Full Manhood

Chapter four closes the first major part of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church which had strayed so far off course.  He has been “nice” so far, and even subtle in my opinion.  But now Paul comes full force showing the hypocrisy of these members of Christ’s body.  Now remember, Paul begins this letter affirming that these Corinthians are “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.”  He does not doubt their salvation.  The fact that a child is disciplined by his father does not make him any less a son.  Paul receives no joy from holding the mirror to their face, but the mirror he must hold and their ugly visage they must see.  That’s called good parenting.

“Already you have all you want!  Already you have become rich!  Without us you have become kings!”  And then Paul teases, “And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!”  These Corinthians thought they had arrived, that they had outgrown their father (i.e., Paul), that they were wise, strong, honorable.  How blind we can be to our own state of affairs!  Then Paul contrasts their “exalted” condition to that of himself and his fellow apostles: mocked, ridiculed, made spectacles before the world, hungry, homeless, poorly dressed, reviled, slandered, persecuted, indeed, the very scum of the earth, but all the while blessing those who abuse them.

Starting with verse fourteen, Paul returns to his usual sincerity.  If he was cynical, it was only to admonish them, and churches need to be admonished from time to time.  “You have many guides,” Paul says, “but not many fathers.”  Churches often have many who want to lead but few who should be leading, and that for lack of knowledge and wisdom, not the worldly wisdom the Corinthians boasted of, “but the wisdom from above [which] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).  And so Paul urges them to be “imitators of me.”  Some see arrogance in Paul for this but that is not the case.  Paul is not calling them to his banner or fan club as the Corinthians were already doing with him and others, but calling them to observe his ways.  It is an acceptable thing and an act of spiritual maturity for a Christian to seek out another brother or sister in Christ whom he or she respects and can imitate in the faith.  And we each need to grow so that we might disciple others.  This is what God wants, that “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13-16).  And what a church that would be!

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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