There are places in the New Testament, and particularly in Paul’s letters, where statements are made that seem unbelievable. When we realize what we were before the grace of God reached into our broken lives and made us new, the assertions of Scripture seem either exaggerated or out of place. Yet, there is a divine intent in this tremendous discrepancy.
Paul captured this extreme difference. To a church that had personal power struggles, party loyalties and unchecked immorality, he lifts their eyesight to the way God looked at them through Christ’s completed and perfect work in redemption. But he does this in a very unique way. Paul first makes his point by making exaggerated statements about himself and Sosthenes. They were willing to be “last of all, like men sentenced to death…a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake…we are weak…we in disrepute” (4:9-10). This attitude requires a mature, humble mind in Christ so that others can be lifted up to what they are in Christ. Paul charges them with becoming “rich and kings” (1 Corinthians 4:8). Paul charges them with becoming “rich and kings” (1 Corinthians 4:8).
At the same time, to achieve spiritual growth and maturity in them, Paul says, “But you are wise in Christ…you are strong…you are held in honor” (4:10). This attitude is a direct reflection of Jesus, “who, though He was in the form of God…emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant…humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:6-8). As Jesus came to serve us through this humble attitude, we have the challenge of how closely we will follow His example. Paul was captured by this character in his Master and determined to replicate it in himself through the Holy Spirit in him.
Will you and I serve others under our influence in the same way?
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