We are going to be concluding our study on Corinth in the context of love and unity with this lesson. We have examined a congregation that has demonstrated selfishness and arrogance in the attitudes of many of its members; we have examined the topic of love and how Christian love affect our behavior to others; and we have looked at the topic of spiritual gifts and their conclusion with the completion of New Testament revelation.
I Corinthians 14:37 – We are going to make application of these chapters in our efforts to be stronger in our spirituality. This lesson is how all of this directs each one of us.
Questions We Should Ask Ourselves in Our Congregation
Do We Possess Arrogance? Right away, we would want to say “no” to such a question, but what do our actions say. Are we like James 2:1-4 in showing favoritism or partiality toward certain members while disregarding others? Do we practice that attitude with those we are willing to study with, making judgments based on solely external evidence? Remember I Corinthians 4:8-10: Paul points out the arrogance in the attitudes of some at Corinth – they have it figured out. What else would they need.
If our attitude demonstrates these qualities, God is just as displeased with us as with those Christians we have been studying.
Is Edification Our Primary Goal? You will find “edify,” its variations, and synonyms mentioned several times in I Corinthians 12-14. Preachers and Bible class teachers need to lead the flock in understanding the scriptures, and they need to present material in such a way that they can be understood. Romans 14:19 – We are to follow after those things that produce peace and edification. (See also Romans 15:2, Ephesians 4:29.)
To exhort or to edify means to encourage or to build up. Urging each other forward should be a primary goal of our gathering together. In I Corinthians 14, Paul encourages those Christians to direct their worship in such a way that everyone is edified – not just those who are leading the worship. We tend to define edification based on what “I” like, but it is the group that is the focus. We are to be an encouragement to each other at all times.
Have We Missed the Point on What Constitutes Spirituality? We become comfortable with defining spirituality with safe terms we are used to. I am baptized; therefore I am spiritual. I attend church; therefore I am spiritual. I take the Lord’s Supper; therefore I am spiritual. Yes, these are all things we should be doing, but these actions do nat make us spiritual. Rather, doing those things that are right is a result of having a spiritual mind (Hebrews 13:16).
I Corinthians 10:1-5 – God was displeased with those who followed Him as a result of their conduct. Furthermore, Hebrews 6:1-6 speaks of individuals who enter into a relationship with God but fall away. They did the right things initially, but they fell into disobedience, and God disowned them. External appearances do not make a spiritual person.
How Can We Be Spiritual? Devotion to God and to one another is a mark of spirituality. See John 4:24 in the context of what the woman at the well was asking. Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:32-33 – whether in the Old Testament or in the New, carnality should be eliminated, and we should think spiritually. (Remember Paul’s admonition in I Corinthians 3 about carnal minds?) I Peter 2:5 again emphasizes spirituality in our worship, and if I am part of God’s holy priesthood, I am devoted to God on a daily basis. (See also Hebrews 13:15-16 and Hebrews 6:9-10.) Turning back to I Corinthians 13:1-3, without the proper attitude of love, our good works do not amount to anything.
Do We Appreciate the Connection Between Love & Unity? Paul describes love as a more excellent way to gain spirituality, and it is described as the key to church harmony and unity. We use Ephesians 4:1-4 to talk about doctrinal unity, and this is a good point out of these verses. However, look at the role patience and love plays in this unity. Colossians 3:12-14 reminds us that love is the perfect bond of unity. (See also Philippians 2:3-4.)
If we do not work on this relationship of love between our brothers and sisters, we will not have unity. Psalm 133 talks about the beauty of spiritual unity, and David illustrates this beauty in two ways, both depicting blessings from God, and we hope for blessings from God when we dwell in unity with one another.
If we are to be a loving, spiritual, unified congregation, we have to start with ourselves. We each need to become more humble; we need to work on edifying one another; we each need to examine our spirituality; and we need to appreciate and apply the relationship between love and unity. If there was hope for the Christians at Corinth to grow into a spiritual and unified congregation, we all have hope.
lesson by Tim Smelser