May 13, 2020 – Wednesday
1 Corinthians 4:12-13 NIV
12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;
13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
Interesting verses from Paul. If you read the surrounding verses, especially those preceding these, you will find Christians in Corinth are doing well. Paul, however, wants to warn them of what may yet come their way and how they would be expected to handle such circumstances. In fact Paul continues on writing 14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children to be even more explicit.
When Paul wrote this he was living in Ephesus and sustaining himself while working as a tent-maker. Such work was arduous and time consuming. Still he found time to write.
So why would Paul write such a description of expected behavior for the Corinthians? Especially behavior he himself had exhibited under dire circumstances. He set the example, an example needed for the Corinthians as their expected behavior would not be like Paul’s or like that Jesus had given as instructions in Matthew 5:44-45a as discussed yesterday But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Paul knew this behavior would be difficult and he even described those who acted in this manner would be considered fools for Christ (v10).
Thus after presenting what he has endured Paul makes the following statement 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. And it does not have to be Paul they imitate. It can be Timothy about whom he says 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. Timothy’s behavior will remind them of Paul’s way of life in Christ Jesus and in doing so give them an example to imitate.
What do we gain by imitating Paul (or Timothy or someone else we observe exhibiting such behavior)? I will let Matthew Henry answer that with the following: Whatever the disciples of Christ suffer from men, they must follow the example, and fulfil the will and precepts of their Lord. They must be content, with Him and for Him, to be despised and abused. It is much better to be rejected, despised, and ill used, as St. Paul was, than to have the good opinion and favour of the world. Though cast off by the world as vile, yet we may be precious to God, gathered up with His own hand, and placed upon His throne.
No matter what the world thinks of us as Christians, we are not of the world, but only in the world. Our home, our destination is with Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit. For that reason Paul wants us to know it is worthwhile.
And it is.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton