In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul bares his soul to them. He hopes that it will cause them to open their hearts to the Word of God that he’s preaching.
He starts by comparing how they see themselves with their perceptions of him.
We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!
1 Corinthians 4:10
Paul is exposing their thoughts.
“Paul only shows up here to tell us what to do.”
“Paul and his team are morons for what they’re doing in Christ’s name. We are sensitive and thoughtful in Christ. They’re weak, but we’re powerful. Our opinion carries a lot of weight, theirs is valueless.”
I wish that this was an isolated case; only the opinions of an ancient church that died out long ago. However, I’ve found these attitudes in the church of today. There are Christians who won’t listen to godly counsel.
“Pastor, you don’t understand real life. I can’t live for Christ on your level. You don’t understand the pressures I face.”
I have to laugh when I hear arguments like that. I lived a Christian life as an Electrical Engineer for many years. Even now in my part-time job and hobbies, I’m constantly interacting with non-Christians. I’ve experienced the same pressures as everyone else.
Then, to top it off, the ministry itself has pressures that are not apparent to most believers. Paul tries to get this across to the church.
To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.
1 Corinthians 4:11-13
Based on his other writings and the book of Acts, I don’t believe that Paul was talking about physical, material things here. He was talking about the weight of the ministry. The fact is, the more of God you encounter, the hungrier and thirstier for His Spirit you become.
The phrase in rags actually means naked. That’s one of the worse pressures for a minister. No one else feels more naked than a pastor.
Every aspect of his or her life is scrutinized under a magnifying glass. Everything is inspected – their spouse, children, free-time activities, and how they dress. Doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professions not treated like that.
On top of that, no matter how badly we’re treated, we’re expected to portray the love of Christ to all people. If we make one miss-step, we’re labeled as mean spirited.
No, I’m not griping about the ministry. I wouldn’t choose any other calling. The rewards far outweigh the challenges. I’m simply pointing out the truth that Paul’s trying to get across to the church.
As believers, we need to understand the price that’s being paid for the Word that’s being preached to us. Then we can receive that Word, knowing that it comes from a heart that seeks God’s best in those who are listening.
Question: What price has your pastor paid to bring God’s Word to you?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi