1 Corinthians 4:6-13
6 Brothers and sisters, I have used myself and Apollos as examples to help you. You can learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Don’t go beyond what is written.” Then you won’t be proud that you follow one of us instead of the other. 7 Who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you brag as though you did not? 8 You already have everything you want, don’t you? Have you already become rich? Have you already begun to rule? And did you do that without us? I wish that you really had begun to rule. Then we could also rule with you! 9 It seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of a parade. We are like people sentenced to die in front of a crowd. We have been made a show for the whole creation to see. Angels and people are staring at us. 10 We are fools for Christ. But you are so wise in Christ! We are weak. But you are so strong! You are honored. But we are looked down on! 11 Up to this very hour we are hungry and thirsty. We are dressed in rags. We are being treated badly. We have no homes. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When others curse us, we bless them. When we are attacked, we put up with it. 13 When others say bad things about us, we answer with kind words. We have become the world’s garbage. We are everybody’s trash, right up to this moment.
Paul is addressing the problem of rivalry within the Corinthian church, with different teachers claiming their wisdom and skill makes them better. What he’s been saying about Apollos is simply for the sake of illustration; he and Apollos and Cephas have no quarrel. The problem lies between the warring factions in Corinth. He wants them to think through what he has said about his relationship with Apollos, which he has described purely as an example, and apply it all to their own situation. Paul has put together biblical themes like ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise’, ‘The one who boasts must boast in the Lord’, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’. Paul draws them together to say: scripture itself forbids you to get ‘puffed up’. The most obvious argument against boasting is that every gift, talent and skill we possess is from God.
Paul calls for a different way. When people insult, offer blessings; when they persecute, bear it patiently; when people tell lies, speak gently and kindly in return. This is the way a person who believes in God behaves, not in boasting but in humility.
When you’re tempted to ‘big-note’ yourself remember Paul and how he writes to the Corinthians here!
Father, may humility be the mark in our lives!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta