July 19 — 1 Corinthians 9 — Sacrifice. This is a chapter about sacrifice for the good of others. Paul’s model for sacrifice was Jesus, and Paul urged others to copy the way he lived (see 11:1). Paul had the right to be supported by those to whom he ministered but he chose to work with his hands to support himself in order to avoid the “obstacle” (v. 12) of being accused of having monetary motives for preaching. He had been “entrusted with a stewardship” of sharing the gospel, so he felt that “necessity is laid upon me” (vv. 16-17). He became “all things to all people” in order to “save some” (v. 22). That was being sacrificial rather than selfish. This would be a good time to evaluate our own lives. What is your sacrifice quotient? One good mark is that you are still reading through the New Testament as you committed to doing. Like the athlete who “exercises control in all things” (v. 25), you have shown discipline. Keep it up and grow!
July 20 — 1 Corinthians 10 — Partake or Refrain? Some of the Corinthians were struggling with whether it was okay to eat meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols. Paul’s answer was basically that it was okay depending on the circumstances, including the consciences of others. If someone with you thought it is wrong, then for their sake, you ought to refrain. Like in the previous chapter, that is an unselfish sacrifice for the benefit of others. Part of Paul’s conclusion is that “I try to please everyone in everything I do” (v. 33) but he preceded that with, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (v. 31). Which is it, pleasing God or pleasing people? Pleasing God is primary but being sensitive about the feelings of others is also important. It is often challenging but we can do both.
July 21 — 1 Corinthians 11 — Controversial Corinthians. The church in Corinth seems to be the most controversial of all the churches Paul founded. Several of their problems are presented in this chapter. The first one is controversial to us also because the women in most evangelical churches today no longer practice covering their heads during worship. The second problem was that they were not properly observing the Lord’s Supper (also called Communion or the Eucharist). They had turned it into a community feast but their food was not shared with everyone present. A related problem was the “unworthy manner” (v. 27) in which they observed this ceremony. The believer who partakes of this special service must first “examine himself” (v. 28) and then be “discerning the body” (v. 29) of Christ’s sacrifice. There should be humility and worship, confession and thanksgiving.
July 22 — 1 Corinthians 12 — Spiritual Gifts. This chapter is packed with interesting and important information about how Christ’s church should function. These gifts are termed “spiritual” because they are from God and they involve His supernatural effectiveness. They are “given” by Him (v. 7), “by the same Spirit” (vv. 8-9), and are “empowered by one and the same Spirit” (v. 11). Every Christian is given at least one: “God … empowers them all in everyone. To each is given …” (v. 7). Paul lists 11 of them in this chapter and more in Romans 12:6-8. The purpose of these gifts is also given here: “for the common good” (v. 7). Have you discovered the special way that God has gifted you to minister to others beyond the natural gifts you received at your physical birth? You only discover them by serving others. You can get clues by receiving feedback from others who tell you how something you did or said made an impact on them. Another clue is that you find great satisfaction and joy in exercising your spiritual gift.
July 23 — 1 Corinthians 13 — Love. This is the famous love chapter in the Bible—the 13th chapter with 13 verses. It first talks about the importance of love. If I “have not love” I am “a noisy gong … am nothing … [and] gain nothing” (vv. 1-3). Love must be present in all that we do. Next, is the definition of love: there are seven positive things it does and eight negative things it does not do (vv. 4-7). It must be balanced, not loving only those close to us like our family, friends, and church members. Lastly, it emphasizes the endurance of love (vv. 8-12). It is not only beneficial in this life but will characterize our eternal relationship with others in heaven. Love is the greatest (v. 13). How will you practice it today?