15 March 2017

1 Corinthians 4:6-17

“What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (v. 7)

Psalm: Psalm 119:129-144


Paul has been in conversation with the Corinthian church describing the nature of Christian leadership, bringing out the true meaning of what lay in Scripture on this subject. When Paul refers to what is written, he means Scripture.

He was at pains to show that being a servant of Christ, and a steward of the mysteries of God (hallmarks of Christian leadership) were gifts that were received from God through the preaching of the gospel. They were part of God's initiative and power, and not grounds for personal human boasting.

Paul would have liked the Corinthians to wake up to the wealth of their divine inheritance. They were like kings (verse 8). And Paul wished they had, in fact, become kings (irony) because they, the apostles, were at the bottom of the social heap and could have used some royal treatment.

Instead it was as if they were fools for the sake of Christ: poorly clothed, beaten and homeless.

Nevertheless, the apostles found inner strength to bless when reviled; endure when persecuted; speak kindly when slandered (verses 12-13).

To Ponder

  • What gift do you have from God, which gives you a sense of God's pleasure as you use it? In the film,Chariots of FireEric Liddell had the sense of God's pleasure in the speed of his running. For Eric, it honoured God. How do you stop becoming overly proud and precious about your talent?
  • What examples do you have about successfully confronting pride in yourself or someone else? (Often gentleness can work better than being confrontational.)
  • Who is a father or mother figure to you? It may be someone from the past whose books you read, a spiritual director, or a prayer partner. What do they give you and how do you get that right balance of encouragement but challenge?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jenny Ellis

Jenny is a Methodist minister and this year has permission to study, as well as work alongside a rural chapel to help it find a new physical presence and sense of mission in its village. She is leading a number of quiet and study days.