by Ruth Olsen
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My love to all of you in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 16:24).
Following on from yesterday’s reading, Paul ends his letter with personal requests, admonitions and exhortations. He asks for Timothy to be accepted, respected and encouraged should he visit the Corinthian believers.
Like some of us, Timothy was quiet, not outspoken, and probably an introvert without extroverted self-assurance and directness. Each personality type is needed. We all need each other! It would become boring – or perhaps overrun – if everyone was a Type A extrovert go-getter. The challenge is to work together and bless one another, and in the process, some of our sharp edges are softened or smoothed out, or courage stretches into new steps of faith.
It also seems that the Corinthians didn’t respect Stephanas and his household, who were among the first converts in Achaia (Greece). Paul honours them and their serving of the saints. Paul urges the Corinthians to ‘submit to such as these’ (verses 15 and 16) and others who have refreshed and blessed Paul, for such blessing flows on through Paul back to the Corinthians.
Either of these situations could happen anywhere among us today! Our culture encourages us to question, assess, evaluate, criticise and analyse. Yet, our God-given purpose is to build up, not destroy. Jesus said he came to give life, life in fullness; it is the enemy, the thief, who works to rob, kill and destroy (John 10:10). It is easy to criticise and give a bad review. It takes courage, patience and care to encourage, strengthen and honour others.
Yet Paul seems rather blunt regarding any who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ – ‘a curse be on him’ (verse 22)! It seems to relate to the various dissensions among the Corinthians; anyone who says they are a follower of Jesus but whose actions do not show it needs to wake up to themselves!
Even as Paul addresses these relationship issues, he ends his letter with assurances of his love for them. Like a spiritual father, he desires them to grow in maturity in loving one another. And his message is equally valid for us.
Lord Jesus, by the power of your Spirit, train us in extending your love to one another. Amen.
Ruth thoroughly enjoys what opportunities ‘retirement’ provides to see more of this beautiful country. When you are reading this, Ruth and her husband Steen will be wandering somewhere in Western Australia with their caravan, probably marvelling at the brilliant diversity of wildflowers to be found there.