The Heart Behind the Hardest Rebukes
Today’s Bible reading is Numbers 30 and 1 Corinthians 1.
It’s hard to imagine being one of the original recipients of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. A letter addressed to you, from an apostle of Jesus, is full of stinging rebukes and challenging admonitions. It would have been humbling; at times, even humiliating. It’s what these Christians needed to hear–a tool used by God to put people in their neglected or forgotten place–but it would have been HARD to hear.
Notice, before he issues a single reproof, appeal, or correction, Paul reminds these disciples of the basics–who they are, whose they are, what they can (and should) be through the gospel:
- Called by a faithful God into the fellowship of his Son (1:9)
- Sanctified in Christ (1:2)
- Expected to be saints together with all who submit to the Lordship of Jesus (1:2)
- Recipients of grace (1:4)
- Enriched through Christ in all speech and knowledge (1:5)
- Not lacking in any gift (1:7)
- Waiting for the revealing of the Lord (1:7)
- Sustained by the strength of Jesus to the end (1:8)
- Guiltless by the grace of God (1:8)
The Bible isn’t an arbitrary rulebook. It’s the means God uses to lead us to Christ Jesus, “who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Cor 1:29). The “word of the cross” is “the power of God” to save “those who are perishing” (1 Cor 1:18).
And so, when we are willing to follow Paul’s lead and “consider our calling” (1 Cor 1:26), we are reminded of the basics–who we are, whose we are, what we can (and should) be through the gospel.
Why, then, would we quarrel with and divide from our fellow believers? Why would we arrogantly tolerate immorality inside the church? Why would we use gifts from God to draw attention to ourselves? Why would we waste our opportunities or live as if our Lord is not faithful to fulfill the promise of his coming?
“Consider your calling, brothers and sisters.” Even the sharpest, most difficult-to-read corrections have a context. God reproves, rebukes, and exhorts us because he loves us. If we are going to maintain sensitivity to his corrections, we would do well to consistently consider our calling. If we remember who and whose we are, we’ll trust the heart behind the hardest rebukes.