LIVING THE SELFLESS LIFE
Dear God, I am dazzled by your power and encircled by your mercy. You are the Lord of heaven and earth. I praise your name,
Read 1 Corinthians 6:1–11
Lawsuits Among Believers
6 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
- 1 Corinthians 6:9 The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Give me, O Lord, the mind to know the life you want me to live, the heart to desire that life and the will to live it.
The fragility of new churches throughout the Roman Empire worried Paul. Having personally experienced criticism and hostility, this concern was a vital topic in Paul’s letters. Christians must conduct themselves ‘in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.’1 Pursuing fellow Christians over money and property in public law courts before pagan judges showed they had not abandoned the greed of their past. Solving these matters within the Christian community would be better than demonstrating disunity.
Paul regularly pens a ‘vice list’ in his letters,2 reminding people of their previous conduct and warning about returning to their old, sinful ways. Today’s list is tailored to Corinth’s self-centered and godless lifestyle, characterized by greed, idolatry, dishonesty, and immorality. Twice Paul declares that those who persist in these behaviors ‘will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (vs 9,10).
We should not single out homosexual behavior in this passage as if Paul is teaching us here about sexual orientation. He is not. Paul is dealing with the self-indulgent lifestyle out of which the Corinthian Christians were called. They knew exactly what he was talking about: their society’s decadent, self-gratifying, uninhibited behavior. Many homosexual behaviors condoned in Corinth would be illegal today, even where same sex relationships are encouraged. The abuse of young boys (and girls) in pagan temples was pedophilia. Married men keeping male sex slaves would be condemned today as enslavement and sexual abuse. We are called to emulate Jesus in lives of selflessness and humility, living in this age the values of the kingdom which is both present and yet to come.
‘Higher than the highest heaven, / deeper than the deepest sea, / Lord, thy love at last has conquered … “None of self, and all of thee.”’3
Holy One, only your power in my life can demonstrate to others the difference that Jesus can make in a life. Lord, release your power in me.
1 Phil 1:27 2 E.g. Rom 1:29–31; Gal 5:19–21; 2 Tim 3:2–5 3 Theodore Monod, 1836–1921, ‘Oh the bitter shame and sorrow’
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