Sunday’s text is one of my favorites because of the leadership lessons it’s taught me through the years. Further, it’s one of my favorites because of how much God and Jesus are mentioned, with regards to the Corinthian church’s gifts and abilities. Studying that text and then teaching on it, was a lot of fun. Convicting, challenging, and enjoyable.
From the cutting room floor:
For some reason, this sermon had more things that I cut out than a few sermons I’ve preached recently. The main reasons I left stuff out this week, was because I thought these things didn’t fit into the overall flow of the sermon. So, here are a few things that I cut out:
- There’s a unique mixture in vs. 1-9 that I found intriguing. On one hand, Paul is very sincere in his encouragement to these people. That’s pretty obvious. But there’s a constant subtle rebuke that’s taking place and I think it shows us something. Since Paul saw God’s work in these Corinthians’ salvation and gifts, he believed that God would keep working in them. This allowed him to speak very matter-of-factly about areas that they need to be adjusted in. I think this is precisely why this letter, is perhaps the most confrontational of Paul’s letters. He knew God was at work in them, therefore, he was confident that God would keep working in them, as he confronted them.
- Admit it, when you see something that needs to be adjusted in another brother/sister, excuses began to creep in like: “well, they won’t listen anyway.” Or “it won’t do any good.” Paul shows us something different…because God is at work, we can anticipate that God will keep working, therefore we can offer the concern, trusting God to keep working. God’s job is to work in His people, our job is to share what He’s told us to share.
- I find it interesting that the very gifts that the Corinthian culture valued (knowledge and speech), God gave to the Corinthian church. This has caused me to wonder how God gifts churches. For instance, I know of a church near Nashville…wouldn’t they need some musicians that God had called to their church? I know that God has done this. But this also reminds me of how God provides for our needs, as we need them, to accomplish His gospel mission. Now, we’ll see later on, that Paul’s gives of preaching didn’t seem to impress the Corinthians very much. They actually liked Apollos quite a bit better because he was a better orator. But I think seeing God gift these Corinthians with the gifts they needed, shows us that God will meet everything we need to accomplish His work.
- When reading through how Paul encouraged these people and then confronted them, could give us some ways that encouragement and confrontation work together. Let’s examine this a little bit:
- From experience, I’ve learned that for every 1 exhortation with it’s best to have about 10 encouragements.
- And also from experience, I’ve found that the people we encourage, generally (and I say generally) will receive exhortation much better from us. I think this has to do with the fact that they know that we love them and see the best in them. Then when we need to confront them on something, they generally, receive it with that same “believing the best” feel.
- There are some who use what’s called “the sandwich method”. This is where you give encouragement, followed by an exhortation, then followed with an encouragement. Now, I’ve done this and I’ve found it helpful. However, I’ve also found that if that is the only way I bring exhortation to others, then they normally don’t receive the encouragement very well. So, my assessment is this…use the sandwich method, but not as the only way you encourage or exhort others. It’s a tool…not a commandment.
- One thing I didn’t cover was how to receive encouragement and how to receive correction.
- On receiving encouragement…don’t over-spiritualize your gratitude by saying “oh thanks, but Jesus really did it.” I heard a story once of a lady singing in church and after she was done, another lady came to her and said, “I’m so grateful that God gave you such a wonderful voice to sing that song. Thank you!” The singer replied, “Oh thanks, but it was truly the Lord singing through me.” To which the encourager replied, “No honey, Jesus would’ve done much better, but you were pretty good.” I love that! When someone gives you encouragement…thank them, then quietly, thank God. But don’t over-spiritualize it.
- On receiving correction…humility is really the key to this. It really doesn’t matter if you think the confronter loves you or not. Too be honest, some of the greatest times in my growth was honestly evaluating confrontation from people who I knew didn’t love me very much…a few actually told me they hated my guts. So, it’s really important to posture our hearts in humility and evaluate everything before the Lord. Then, “chew up the meat and spit out the bones”. Whatever is true…own it 100%, thank God and thank the person who shared it with you. Whatever is false…thank God you heard it and thank the person who shared it with you, possibly sharing with them why you disagree. But posture all of that…in humility.
Just a reminder:
There was a critical point in the sermon yesterday where I was exhorting us, as a church on a couple of different dangers, as we enter 2020. One of them, I want to repeat here. The Lord has been good to CLF. I thank God each day that I get to serve this church, as the pastor. I’m incredibly grateful for the leaders we have, the people who call this church their home, the way He’s gifted us, the way He’s provided for us, and the joy that we have when we’re together. It really is a wonderful church to be a part of. But…let’s posture ourselves with gratitude to God and humility before Him, knowing that He’s also working in many others, in our community and all around the globe. While we all love our church…let’s allow that love to move us to gratitude, humility, and greater gospel work for the glory of God.
Some quotes I left out that I thought were good:
- “To delight in God for God’s working in the lives of others, even in the lives of those with whom one feels compelled to disagree, is sure evidence of one’s own awareness of being the recipient of God’s mercies.” Fee, G. D.
- “The very “richness” (you were enriched, v. 5) of this multidimensional phenomenon (see chs. 12–14) could bring side effects of competitive status-seeking and a chaotic lack of orderedness in worship. If God gives without strings, it does not detract from the value of the gifts if human persons use them irresponsibly or even for self-aggrandizement.” Thiselton, A. C.
- “What is remarkable is that Paul should express such confidence about a community whose current behavior is anything but blameless and whom on several occasions he must exhort with the strongest kinds of warning. The secret, of course, lies in the subject of the verb, “he” (= God). If Paul’s confidence lay in the Corinthians themselves, then he is in trouble. But just as in later passages (5:6–8 and 6:9–11), in Paul’s theology the indicative (God’s prior action of grace) always precedes the imperative (their obedience as response to grace) and is the ground of his confidence. Thus even though Paul is concerned to remind the church that they have not yet arrived, at the same time he holds out before them his great confidence that by God’s own action they will indeed make it in the end. Consequently, by means of thanksgiving Paul redirects their confidence from themselves and their own giftedness toward the eternal God, from whom and to whom are all things.” Fee, G. D.
From the Cheap Seats:
- There’s this thing called “The Drake Curse”…those of you who know what I’m talking about, will understand…if I pick a team, they’re probably going to lose…so much for my Vikings pick to go the Super Bowl. And for those of you who are fans of the 4 teams left…as an act of grace, I will not pick any team to go to the Super Bowl! There you go…grace at work!
- It’s an Olympic year…I love the Olympics.
- Is it time for the 2020 NFL season to begin yet?
- And wow…MLB hammering the Astros…I don’t like the Astros very much.
I pray that you have a great week.