I write this to you, not because I want to make you feel ashamed, but to instruct you as my own dear children. For even if you have ten thousand guardians in your Christian life, you have only one father. For in your life in union with Christ Jesus I have become your father by bringing the Good News to you. I beg you, then, to follow my example. (verses 14-16)
Read 1 Corinthians 4:8-21
Paul was a pastor who dearly loved his people, as a father loves his children. Like any father, he was frustrated and bewildered by them at times. At other times he rejoiced in them, and at others he needed to discipline them.
But he never stopped loving them. In everything he did he tried to focus them on the truth – the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he never stopped calling them his brothers and sisters in Christ.
There are times when people need to speak frankly to each other in Christian congregations. In these situations we should always follow Paul’s example. We, too, should be reminding people in danger of straying – lovingly and gently – who they are and what they have, in the gospel, at the foot of the cross. It is not our job to judge or condemn them; our task is to remind them of God’s love.
St Paul begs us to follow his example. May we do it. And may we also remember his advice in Galatians 6. If and when we do need to talk honestly to people, may we be very careful that in doing so we do not sin ourselves.
Father, help me to speak the truth in love, the way your Son did, so that I help people see your love and don’t drive them from it. Amen.
by Bob Turnbull, in ‘New Strength for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 1998)
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