July 17, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (1 Corinthians 1)

Submitted by David L. from Gracepoint Austin Church

1 Corinthians 1:4-9

  • On what basis is Apostle Paul able to be thankful and confident about a church full of divisions and problems (as will be revealed later in the letter)?  What does this demonstrate about his understanding of “the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus?”

Paul is thankful and confident about the Corinthian church despite its divisions and problems based on “the grace of God that was given [you] in Christ Jesus.”  Paul’s thankfulness for the Corinthians demonstrates his understanding of true discipleship, which is not based on good work or merit, but on God’s grace alone.  Given Paul’s background as a Pharisee who persecuted and killed Christians, he was fully aware of his sinfulness and the judgment from God that he deserved.  However, having been saved by God’s mercy and grace, Paul’s life was redeemed and used for the sake of the gospel, and as he obligated himself to the people God brought into his ministry, namely the Corinthian church, and he seems them through the lens of God’s mercy.  Even though they were full of sin and problems, Paul clung to the hope and faithfulness of God that would eventually bring them to a point of truth, repentance, and sanctification, just as it did for him.

  • How does this apply to me?

Paul’s thankfulness for the Corinthians applies to me in the sense that before moving to Austin, I had a lot of lofty notions of what it would be like to build up this church from the ground up, mainly self-centered notions of how to glorify God through our labors and efforts.  Four years later, I stand in awe of the many salvation decisions that have been made, but one of the things that has struck me and fills me with gratitude is the “grace He has given me in Christ Jesus.”  Throughout these past four years He has zealously been at work in my life, convicting me of my sins and uncovering idols in my heart so that I can come to a point of repentance, and realize that being engaged in God’s work of salvation is a privilege only made possible by the mercy and grace I have received. God dealt with the deep-seeded sin of envy, my desire for emotional, mental, and physical comfort. In retrospect, I see that God wanted to first deal with my heart so that His light could shine through this broken vessel and make it undeniable to everyone that it was HE who did the work of salvation.  I’ve had to come back to the point of desperation regarding my sins so that I could be in wonder of how amazing God’s grace truly is, and be full of thanks for allowing a broken sinner like me to be involved in His Kingdom work.  As I have been called to love the people God has entrusted to me, there have been moments when I felt it difficult to be thankful, especially when hearing discouraging news of people’s struggles with sin.  However, Paul’s example encourages me to not lose heart in ministering to people, but to be thankful in all circumstances and find confidence in the hope that His grace will be upon them.

1 Corinthians 1:11-17

  • Think about the role of “Chloe’s people” in bringing about this needed correction from Apostle Paul.  Are there ways in which I need to be like Chloe’s people to bring needed correction to wayward brothers/sisters?  Reflect on Hebrews 3:12-13 in this light.

Hebrews 3:12–13 (ESV)

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

  • Reflect on the tragic picture of division being painted in this passage.  
  • Do I contribute to unity or division within my church?  

Chloe’s people raised the issue of quarreling among them to Paul, because they valued the relationships with their brothers and sisters and the community as a whole.  Personally, the way in which I need to be like Chloe’s people is by waging war against my passivity and my desire for emotional comfort because these are community killers that promote inaction in the midst of relational tension.  I need to be committed to truth in my relationships because only then will I have the courage to speak up no matter how uncomfortable or painful it may be to start the process of mending a broken relationship.

Specifically for me, because of my passivity and inaction in moments of relational tension, I tend to contribute to the division within the body of Christ, more than unification of it.  One concrete commitment I can make today is to overcome the male pride and ego within that tends to make me wait on others to make the first move toward reconciliation because I don’t want to appear as any less of a man.  I also need to overcome the desire to appear tough and self-sufficient by not wanting to ask for help from others lest I come across as being petty or weak.  I recognize the folly in this type of thinking as I should carefully guard the precious relationships God has blessed me with, by questioning my own biased opinions and take swift action to seek the wisdom and guidance of my leaders who can help correct my wayward thoughts and also provide clarity and objective truth in my disagreements with others.  As Romans 12:4-5 states, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” I cannot allow myself to have a “little ole me” complex where I think my issues and conflicts are too insignificant to bring up because I am integrated within the body and the strength of my relationships directly correlates to well-being of the rest of the body of Christ.


Submitted by Sarah S. from Gracepoint Austin Church

1 Corinthians 1:4-9

  • On what basis is Apostle Paul able to be thankful and confident about a church full of divisions and problems (as will be revealed later in the letter)?  What does this demonstrate about his understanding of “the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus?”

Apostle Paul is able to be thankful and confident about a church full of divisions and problems based upon the grace of God given to them through Jesus Christ.  It’s based upon the salvation they have received and the promise that they will stand guiltless in the day of Jesus. This demonstrates that his understanding of “the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” was very real and deep so that even in this situation where so many problems seem to be coming up within the church, it allowed him to still experience gratitude and not despair about the state of the Corinthian believers.  The grace of God found in Jesus was the fundamental and most important lens through which he saw this current situation and church, and ultimately it allowed him to zoom out and recognize that in the midst of these problems and conflicts within the church God is the One in control, He is faithful and will sustain them to the end in this process of molding and perfecting them.

  • How does this apply to me?

It’s hard to zoom out and see this overarching reality and truth of God’s grace and how that means He is at work in perfecting me and others especially when I hear disheartening news that someone is struggling and having a hard time persevering in Christian life, when I see people who once had spiritual fervor now spiritually dry and uninterested in seeking God, or when I am confronted with my own sin issues that seem so resilient and unrelenting.  It’s easy to allow these problems and the current situation to make me start feeling hopeless.  I can imagine how hard it must’ve been for Apostle Paul to hear all of the negative news about the Corinthian church and how there were so many conflicts and issues, and yet it was his understanding of God’s grace in Christ Jesus and that God is the one “who will sustain [them] to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” that allowed him to not become anxious about ministry, cynical or despairing.  It actually allowed him to zoom out and remember the fundamental fact that the Corinthian believers had received salvation through Jesus and could even feel grateful for them.  I, too, need to let my view of ministry and people be based upon God’s grace through Christ and zoom out especially when it feels like the situation is filled with “bad news.” Then I can keep having hope and trust that God is in control and to hold onto the promise that God is at work in each person and in my own life to perfect us rather than fall into the temptation of feeling hopeless or overwhelmed.

1 Corinthians 1:11-17

  • Think about the role of “Chloe’s people” in bringing about this needed correction from Apostle Paul.  Are there ways in which I need to be like Chloe’s people to bring needed correction to wayward brothers/sisters?  Reflect on Hebrews 3:12-13 in this light.

  Hebrews 3:12–13 (ESV)

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

If it weren’t for Chloe’s household, Apostle Paul may not have known what was going on in the Corinthian church or may not have been able to address the issues in a timely manner.  Then, the problems might have grown and festered longer, and in the end bigger problems would have resulted and perhaps impacted the church in more harmful ways.

In light of Hebrews 3, I’m reminded that I am responsible for the other brothers and sisters around me and to keep them from falling into the deceitfulness of sin.  There’s always that fear of rocking the boat or not wanting to face relational discomfort or fear of misunderstandings by bringing up things, but that’s the responsibility I have because the stakes involved are high.  The Hebrews writer says to exhort one another every day–this implies that sin is at work everyday to try to lead people away from God.  I need to lay aside my fears and discomforts because Satan is never at rest at deceiving people, hardening their hearts towards God and causing them to fall away.

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