I’m continuing my series through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. At this point, the apostle begins a new subject. He starts instructing them about their public meetings.
He opens this section with a statement that’s sure to get their attention.
In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.
1 Corinthians 11:17-18
What a thing to say to a church. You’re worse off when you meet together. It sounds like he’s saying that if they continue this way, it would be better for them if they don’t meet. What would cause Paul to say such a thing?
Over the next three and a half chapters, the apostle will explain it all to them…and us. Let’s start at the beginning.
In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.
1 Corinthians 11:18-19
You might think that there were specific things that they were doing wrong. There might also be some things that they should have been doing as a church but weren’t. While these issues were definitely a part of it, the big problem was below the surface.
Paul uses an oxymoron to describe the situation. What do I mean by that? He said that when they come together…there are divisions.
On the surface, they’re all together. They’re one church meeting in one place. But under the surface they’re divided. There are different groups and factions that happen to all be present at the same place.
They may seem like they’re acting together. They pray, sing, and worship the same. But within each grouping is a different perception and each has its own agenda.
Of course, Paul also makes it clear that not all differences are bad. The phrase, differences among you, actually refers to differing choices. Our character is manifest through the choices we make.
Jesus taught his disciples that they could discern people by their fruit. The choices we make are the fruit that can be inspected.
It’s in this fruit that you can see the difference between someone who has God’s approval, versus those without it. Unfortunately, God’s approval is something we don’t hear about very often these days.
God loves each of us unconditionally, but His approval is on a higher level.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
The way we show God’s approval is how we handle the Word that God has entrusted to us. Have we applied it to our lives? Or is it just a good suggestion?
There are differences between those who walk in God’s approval and those who don’t. We need to take what we’ve heard, and use it to make the choices that bring glory to God. That’s the fruit of a life that’s submitted to Christ.
Boldness is a characteristic of an approved believer. Strive to hear the Word and put it into practice. That’s the group you want to be a part of.
Question: What are some choices that you’ve made to apply God’s Word in your life?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi