Tuesday, February 27, 2007

1 Corinthians 4:11-17 -- Are you prepared to imitate Paul?

11To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

16Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Paul is actually telling the Corinthian church to imitate him because he is their father in Christ and has endured so much hardship, scorn and persecution for the gospel. This is a bold statement. He is also saying that Timothy is faithful and able to remind them of his way of life. Paul and Timothy stay true to Christ even when they are reviled and treated as scum. They do not lash back and they do not curse. Rather, they endure as Christ endured. This doesn’t seem like the same man, Paul, who said he couldn’t do what he knew he should do (Romans 7). I find this to be another example that Paul was not talking about himself in Romans 7 in the present tense. Rather, he was talking about himself before he was regenerated and living in Christ. Anyway, we too must truly be willing and able, in Christ, to endure this kind of treatment. To be despised and rejected by the world. To live for God and not the world. We are to be “fools” for Christ and serve God and not the favor and comforts of this world. In Christ and by his grace we can “do all things” and endure all things for the glory of God.

Lord, grant me the grace to endure when troubles and persecution come my way. Thank you that because I am in Christ and because he endured, I too can endure for the glory of God. Show me how to live a life that pleases you. Prepare me for the tough times. May I find my peace and joy in you God so that I may press on toward the prize. You are enough for me. I desire to be a fool for Christ. Help me not seek the approval of man.

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