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Monday, March 13 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION

Last week, we continued our study of the book of Corinthians and examined 1 Cor.4:1-13.
We understood that leadership in the Kingdom of God is a position of servanthood and stewardship. We are not called to lord it over people but to serve faithfully. Faithfulness must be our lifestyle because we are going to give account of our stewardship. Whatever gifts we have, we were given for the purpose of faithful service to God and His kingdom’s purpose on earth.

                   “It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (faithful)” 1 Cor.4:2

Today, we are looking at the concluding verses of this chapter; 1 Cor.4:14-21.
Paul demonstrated his paternal care for the Christians in Corinth.

1) Paul’s Fatherly Appeal: 1 Corin.4:14-15

I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

Paul was not writing to shame the Corinthians over their failures but to rescue or correct them from their errors. Paul is a model of godly leaders. He is a very different leader from those whom some Christians in Corinth are choosing to follow, leading them into doctrinal errors. This is his admonition in Gal. 6:1
“Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.”

In Corinth, the Christians may have considered it difficult to understand why Paul’s opinions still mattered to them. Paul had left Corinth to go elsewhere; they had other teachers now. Paul was saying that they were doing many wrong things in their church.

Paul’s reply was that he still had a responsibility for their church. And that responsibility had its origin in Paul’s love for them. If those other men were teachers, Paul was like their father. He birth the Church.

It was Christ who gave Paul that responsibility and that love. Christ sent Paul to Corinth. And there, Paul was the first person to declare Christ’s message publicly. That was when Paul’s love for the Christians in Corinth began. And that was how the church in Corinth began.

We also need to attend to growing Christians around us with love, forgiveness and fatherly or motherly care. Younger Christians should be able to depend on older Christians for love, non-judgemental correction and Godly care. Gal. 4:19
           “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.”

2) Imitate Me: 1 Corin.4:16-17

“Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”


‘Imitate Me’ is a bold request or command from Paul. How many leaders can dare to say such to their followers? But Paul was not just asking them to follow him blindly, but according to 1 Cor.11:1 “Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” He was qualified for followership because he was following Christ."

Fathers often tell their children to imitate them. Perhaps a child is unsure what to do, or perhaps he is afraid or foolish. So the father tells the child, ‘Copy what I do.’

That is a much better way to teach than just to give instructions. The child sees what the father is doing. The child has confidence because his father is doing that thing first.

Paul has just described himself as the ‘father’ of the church at 1 Cori.4:15. And here he speaks not merely as a teacher, but as a father. For 18 months, the Christians in Corinth had seen how Paul behaved (Acts 18:11). So they knew his statements in 1 Corinthians 4:10-13 were true. That was how he had behaved in Corinth. And that was how he wanted them to behave, too.

If church leaders today would not tell anyone to imitate them, perhaps their attitude is different from Paul’s attitude. Perhaps they feel that they are carrying out a job, like a teacher. Perhaps they feel unable to take the sort of responsibility that Paul took.

The assignment of Timothy to them was to teach and remodel Christ life he saw and received from Paul. Paul had discovered that he could trust Timothy (Philippians 2:19-22). And Timothy always respected Paul. Paul was constantly praying for Timothy (2 Timothy 1:3). 2 Timothy 1:4 shows us that they were true friends.

We likewise should follow the examples and lives of our godly leaders and remodel Christ’s lifestyle to younger Christians around us. Can we be trusted to raise godly followers for Christ? Will any youth or young Christian want to grow up to be like us?


3) How Paul dealt with proud people: 1 Corin.4:18-21

Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

The issue of pride in the Church in Corinth is a serious challenge. In 1 Corinthians 4:6, Paul urged the Christians in Corinth not to have proud attitudes. Here, in 1 Corinthians 4:18-19, he says clearly that some of them were already proud. He also explains the reason why they had that attitude. It was because Paul was not there in Corinth to oppose them. Nobody in Corinth could act in the power of God’s Holy Spirit to stop them.
Paul’s intent is to come as quickly to Corinth as he can but according to the will of God. Sometimes God had guided Paul to places that Paul did not expect (Acts 16:6-10). Paul always had to obey God. But Paul expected God to send him to Corinth.

When Paul arrived at Corinth, he would deal with those proud people. Paul preferred to speak to people in a humble, gentle manner that showed real love. But such gentle words will not usually convince proud people to change their attitudes. It was usual for a father to take a stick and to hit a proud child with it (Proverbs 22:15).

Paul had something much more powerful than a stick to deal with the proud people in Corinth. And he certainly would not depend on his own words, as the proud people did. Instead, Paul would ask God to give him the power of the Holy Spirit to deal with this situation.

Conclusion:

Paul’s words to the Corinthians are for us as well, and they have much to say. Paul’s leadership is described as a radical contrast to the worldly-wise leadership. Paul’s dealings with those in the wrong at Corinth are an example of his instructions to us in handling problem people in the Church.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:11 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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