Tuesday, 27 May 2014
I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 1 Corinthians 4:14
Now, in contrast to his words which he has thus far spoken – words of irony followed by words which included examples of personal hardship and trial, Paul removes the irony and explains why he gave those striking examples by saying, “I do not write these things to shame you…” His words were not intended to degrade them, but to effect a positive change in thinking (and thus in life) in them.
His words of irony weren’t intended as a means of embarrassment, and his words about his sufferings weren’t meant to exalt him above them as if they hadn’t somehow earned a right through personal trial which he had. Instead, and even if it had this effect, they weren’t intended to shame or taunt them. Rather, he had more lofty and righteous intents in mind. In contrast to this perception, he explains, “but as my beloved children I warn you.”
He has been acting and speaking as a father would to his own children – for good, for edification, for building up and exhortation. Just as a father will use examples from his own life in an attempt to show the right path, so Paul was doing thus far. When a parent tells of their past hardships, it is in anticipation that the child will listen and think, “Oh, I can avoid that by not doing what he did.”
Whether it concerns financial mistakes, blunders during times of schooling, faults that came up in relationships, or whatever else, the parent uses personal experience, mixed with irony, to impart wisdom to his children. This is Paul’s method here and it is with a noble and heartfelt intent for his children in Christ there at Corinth.
Life application: The Bible has many notes of instruction which include examples of failure as well as success. There is also irony directed to its audience. None of these are intended to shame us in the sense that we can never measure up. Rather, they are intended as a means of getting us to think on how we can measure up. And then God gives the answer – by putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and living according to His instruction. That instruction is found in the Bible; read your Bible.
When I read Your word, O God, I see my own failings in the people I read about. Individuals and people groups alike all fail You again and again as I read its pages, and yet, you tenderly care for them and work to bring about a positive change in them. And then You sent Jesus who never failed. He is what all of those other trials, troubles, and shortcomings are intended to show me… even though I am like that, I can trust in the One who never failed. I can be found within Him! And then I can live for You through Him. What a marvelous God You are, to send us Jesus! Thank You and Amen.