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  • Be the Examples

    As the one who ministered the gospel of Christ to you, I beg you, do not accept God's mercy in vain.

    He has heard your prayers, as He promised in the scriptures, and has redeemed you for Himself on the day of salvation.

    Do not return to sin, so that neither you nor I will be blamed for our inconsistency.

    Show everyone I have done my job well, a minister of God who as patiently endured afflictions and even threats of injury and harm.

    For I have endured beatings, whippings, imprisonment and all that I have encountered with prayer and fasting. Only by keeping myself pure was I given the patience and knowledge to be loving and kind, and that by the grace of the Holy Spirit, by the purest of love.

    By His word of truth and the power of God, I received the armor of righteousness on all sides of me.

    I have been called a man of honor and of dishonor, I have been called good and evil, both a prophet and a liar. I am known, yet unknown, dying and yet I live, scourged but not put to death.

    I am called sorrowful, and yet I always rejoice. I am poor, but I make men rich. I have nothing, and yet, I have everything.

    Children of Corinth, I sing your praises, for you are truly the children of my heart. You did not repent because I told you to, but because you opened your hearts to the Holy Spirit and were redeemed. So as a reward for your faithfulness, I pray you are also given His gifts.

    Remain apart from non-believers. What could you possibly have in common with idol worshipers?

    Does a light shine out from darkness? Neither does Christ have any part of Satan. So what could you gain by learning their rituals? Why would you visit the temple of an idol when You are the temple of the living God?

    God said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.
    Remain apart from them, and do not allow their witness to stain your own. Touch nothing offered to idols, and I will receive you. I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters.”

    This is the promise of our God.

    Remain faithful

    Now when you read this in the King James Version of the Bible, Paul is using the empirical “We”, trying I think to show humility and express that he is not the only minister undergoing persecutions. But when I read this over and over, it began to dawn on me that this is a very personal plea from Paul to the Corinthians, and was meant to be understood in the first person.

    And according to the historical records that exist, this was very true. Paul did not have an easy time with his ministry. Local magistrates viewed him at least as a disrupting force and at worst as a sort of rebel leader. I imagine toward the end of his life he lived in constant pain from his injuries and probably suffered from malnutrition and a variety of ailments.

    Yet here he is praying for his ministry to be given to the Corinthians as a reward for their turning away from pagan practices and idolatry. Isn't that like wishing the canaries a truckload of kittens?

    You see Paul believed that whatever he suffered here on earth was nothing to what he would suffer if he did not do as God commanded. His faith was that strong, that real. And that faith finally took him before Caesar to profess the gospel of Jesus Christ before the audience of Rome.

    Paul set the example. And he is bidding the Corinthians to follow that example. It was the example of Christ.

    I hope you are all having a blessed and glorious day.

    Fred
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