Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Three Hundred Thirty-Six

Day Three Hundred Thirty-Six, I Corinthians 11-14

In keeping with Paul's message to the Corinthians to treat each other with love and submission, Paul continues with some discussion over the unity that they should have. As an example of what not to do, Paul chastises them for the way the treat the Lord's Supper. When they gather, "each person goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk." Rather, the Supper is supposed to be a time of togetherness for them as a church family, as he tells them, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."

As a better example of how to behave, Paul uses his body metaphor, explaining to the people that they, as different people with different gifts, are all members of the same body. As different parts of the body have different functions, yet all are important, so each of them is a member of the body of Christ. They each received the same Spirit, but they have different functions, and all are important. Each of them has different gifts, and Paul tells them to "eagerly desire the greater gifts." So what would the "greater gifts" be? I'm glad you asked. Here's how Paul explains:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith taht can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."

After Paul is done explaining to them the importance of love, he continues with some more instructions about the different gifts that they have. He reminds them of the purpose for those gifts--to build up the body of Christ as a whole. Those who speak in tongues should have someone to interpret what they are saying, so that every one may benefit. Prophecy, on the other hand, is useful for teaching. He instructs them to use their gifts in a way that everyone may be encouraged and uplifted, "for God is not a God of disorder but of peace."

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