Are We Being Humble - 1 Corinthians 4:8-21

Are We Being Humble?

Are we allowing things in our life to take the place of Christ? Is our arrogance and pride preventing us from a true and intimate relationship with our Lord? 

1 Corinthians 4:8-21
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

Paul brings out the sarcasm to the Corinthians. He does this to point out and make them realize that their self-pride and haughtiness are not what is important to God. As Christians, we are to be humble and not be focused on all the things of the world. Paul points out that he and the apostles are the lowest and brought out like slaves sentenced to death. Either he was giving the visual of a Roman triumphal procession where the captured slaves were brought in at the end. Or, he was depicting the slaves and poor brought into the arena at the end. Either way, he states that he and the apostles are nothing in the eyes of the world. They are fools for the sake of Christ. In a way, the Corinthians were ashamed to be associated with these men because of their low status. 

Paul strived to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles, but he also worked hard with manual labor to provide a living. The Corinthians felt as if they were above this and that manual labor was only fit for slaves. But Paul is saying that he is a servant and steward of Christ. It is not one’s status or worldly possessions that make him godly. It is the heart that God seeks. Possessions, titles, status, etc., can hinder one’s heart and deeper connection with God. Pride hinders and blinds us. 

Paul isn’t being sarcastic to belittle them. He does this to identify their weaknesses as Christians. He tells them that he regards them as his children in Christ. He notes that there have been many guides or teachers in their lives, but Paul is their spiritual father because of Christ. As a child desires to be like their father, Paul calls them to imitate him. This is something tough to swallow, considering the worldly philosophy of the Corinthians and how much they want to be part of the world, and how much they took pride in their achievements. Paul sets the example of humility. He sets an example of what Christians should emulate in their walk and he wants them to walk as he does. We, too, must walk as Paul did. There will be struggles, pain, loss, and suffering, but Paul says we are alive and rich in Christ. As one of the leaders and founders of the Corinthian church, Paul takes a fatherly responsibility for them. He wants them raised properly in Christ. He wants them raised and taught so that they can become spiritually mature. However, he asks them if they want his discipline or gentleness if the Lord allows him to see the Corinthians again. 

As a result, Paul tells us that arrogance and pride are sins and can hinder us from what a true relationship with God can be. He points out that there is a difference between words and deeds, speech and power. Christianity is more than words. It is faith that is evidenced by our works and deeds. Pride hinders the growth and production of the fruit that our faith produces. Also, Paul points out that the Corinthians judge others because of their status and that they need to stop boasting in their own ‘wisdom.’ This also is true for us. Boasting, arrogance, and pride hinders our spiritual maturity. 

Therefore, put aside all pride and arrogance in your own endeavors and effort, but rely on God and submit to His will in your life. Spiritual maturity comes from His Word and allowing Him to work in your hearts. When you humble yourself and are submissive to His will by faith, your works produce fruit that builds others up and is a witness of Christ. 

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