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1 Corinthians

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A Special Place For Everyone

1 Corinthians 12:21-25

The parts of the church are likened to parts of a human body (1 Corinthians 12:12). Those parts are both believers and special abilities, given to them by the Holy Spirit, which enable the church to represent Jesus Christ on earth (Acts 1:8). Every person and every gift is necessary. But in Corinth, the new believers had carried over their worldly thinking about who was most important into the church.

Sharing the Pain and Joy

1 Corinthians 12:26

One mark of genuine relationships is that pain and joy are felt when others are sad or glad. That true empathy is a God-given quality of human beings. It helps to bind marriages and families: it is celebrated at births, weddings and deaths; and felt in the unexpected circumstances of life. That empathy is also evidence of the close bond between the members of the Body of Christ, the church (Acts 12:1-5).
 

The Shape of the Church

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

The church in Corinth was riddled by division, stemming from pride. That attitude exalted some and displaced others. So Paul affirmed that everybody who had come to Christ was equally a part of His Body. However the church was not a random collection of individuals. They had not come together because of their mutual self-interest, but because they had responded to God's call. It was His church. He designed it to please Him: and He had the right to shape it by using key people to lay its foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).
 

Spiritual Limitations

1 Corinthians 12:29-31

The questions Paul asked in these verses assume the answer, 'No'. So, is it true that through the Spirit's power we can do anything for the Lord? No! Only the things the Lord calls us to do – not anything we want to do or anything others think we should do. It is the Lord alone who determines which of His children shall be given particular abilities; and nobody is given every gift.
 

Love Multiplies Value

1 Corinthians 13:1

One of the surprising lessons in mathematics is that the numeral 0 (zero) is more powerful than we might think. If we add zero to a number, the number does not change; similarly if we subtract it. But if we multiply any number by zero, however great that number is, it is immediately reduced to zero (so, 100 x 0 = 0). It is the same with love. Love multiplies the benefit or effect of even the smallest action. But what happens if there is no love? The lovelessness reduces even the grandest action to being of no value to God.
 

Spiritual and Social Ministry Need Love

1 Corinthians 13:2-3

The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to have a powerful religious reputation although he had been empty of love. He had claimed to be devoted to God while persecuting the church in a violent way; but when he met Jesus all that changed. Paul's motivation was turned around when he understood that Jesus, who he persecuted, loved him and wanted to commission him to help build the church rather than destroy it (Titus 3:3-7). Paul had never heard such grace and love before, and he wisely chose to receive it (Acts 26:19).
 

Love Is Just Like Jesus

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Paul knew that the advance of God's kingdom is achieved by God equipping believers with spiritual gifts, and empowering His people to use them in love. But what is love? It is a self-sacrificial inner motivation to serve others and be willing to bear the pain of rejection (1 John 4:10). Love cannot exist without a person to love and yet relationships do not always reward love. The person you love and want to help may resist or even reject your love … as they did with Jesus (Psalm 55:12-14).
 

The Joy and Perseverance of Love

1 Corinthians 13:6-7

God's love has an extraordinarily joyful and enduring quality. His love is the only sort of true love which exists, enabling us to test our love against the character of God. Does God ever take any pleasure in evil? No! Neither can anybody who claims to welcome God's love. The Corinthian church tolerated evil (1 Corinthians 5:1-2): until Paul wrote to them severely, they did not understand how much they had offended the Lord.
 

Grown Up Love That Lasts

1 Corinthians 13:8-12

'Love never fails' is a very strong statement. It stands alongside, 'The Word of the Lord stands forever' (1 Peter 1:25). God, His character, His Word, His love are indestructible (1 Timothy 1:17). But everything we see in our world will fail. The bodies of plants, animals and humans die; political leaders and their power come and go; buildings crumble and landscapes erode. Everything in this world is temporary, including the world itself. Even churches and ministries arise and some decline. But nothing can destroy divinely inspired love.
 

Love is Eternally Great

1 Corinthians 13:13

This chapter (1 Corinthians 13) is well known for its description of love but often quoted out of context. Although it is often used at weddings, that was not the reason that Paul wrote it. He was dealing with a church which has been proudly squabbling about which spiritual gift was the greatest (and by implication which of them was the greatest). They assumed that the most spectacular gifts were superior, but failed to see that the gifts glorified the giver more than the receiver.
 

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