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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reflection on 1 Cor 4-6

Having addressed the problems of the Corinthian Church is the past two chapters, Paul now begins to move into his teaching about how to fix said problems. In the following chapters there is heavy implications about living a virtuous life.

Trustworthiness--Paul says first (4:2) that stewards must be trustworthy. This is ever so important because people must be able to trust that the words we speak, and the actions that we do are in accordance with the Truth of Christ. Being trustworthy is also especially important in the second virtue:

Right Judgement--Paul states "do not pronounce judgment before the time", and that all judgment really comes from the Lord (4:5). However, being Christians there are times when we are called to exercise right judgment, especially when calling someone to greater holiness, or in preventing someone from hurting the Church as a whole. Paul deals with this in chapter 5 when he talks about the effects of Sexual Immorality on the Church. He states that these people MUST be judged and that such is a sin is even worse to associate with than robbers, greed, and idolaters. He states that even one speck can ruin the holiness of the whole (5:6). He even condones kicking such a person out! This seems radical and a last resort, for of course the purpose of the Church is to bring people to Christ, not keep them from Him. However, when the acts of one jeopardize the holiness of the whole, he must be let go. The Church has shown this in the past through the practice of excommunication in extreme circumstances. I recently had to ban a youth from the program for the rest of the year. I didn't want to, but I had to--and this gives biblical weight to the decision I had to make. All we can do for such people is pray for them. Finally, part of exercising right judgement is knowing when and where to do so. Like Paul says in Chapter 6--we don't bring matters between believers to be judged by unbelievers... that's just stupid.

Chastity--Obviously if sexual immorality stains the entire church, we should be chaste, living our lives according to the sexual guidelines of our current vocation.

Humility--The second half of Chapter 4 deals with the virtue of Humility, arguably the most important Christian and Contrary Virtue. Paul blatantly points out that all things we have are gifts, so why would we boast? Silly Corinthians. Verses 10-13 are beautiful as Paul outlines the dichometric qualities of the Apostles with those of "normal believers" in that all the Apostles do would seemingly be negative to most of society (foolish, weakness, disrepute, hunger, thirst, etc.) but because all are done in Christ, they are made righteous by them.

Freedom--Finally Paul talks a bit of freedom, which is again in conjunction with right judgment. The phrase "all things are lawful for me" at first threw me for a loop, for how can all things be lawful? However, after doing some research with some Biblical Commentaries, I realized that this statement is said by the Corinthians. In other words, it highlights the Corinthians' distorted view of freedom as being "able to do what one wants" rather than "able to do the good". Therefore, while freedom of will allows us to do what we will, the freedom allotted to us by Christ does not. Because our bodies are a temple and made to glorify God, we should actively engage that which glorifies God, and actively flee from that which does not. It sometimes takes right judgment to decide which is which.

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