Practical Loose Ends
Holy One, I am reminded again that You are God and I am not. Help me to get over myself. I offer my praise to You.
1 CORINTHIANS 16:1-24
Consider: Paul ends most of his letters by referring to the "grace of the Lord Jesus" (26). Reflect on what it means for you to have received Christ's grace.
In this chapter we have Paul dealing with practical loose ends. These are important, as they demonstrate Paul's heart for the Christian community both locally in Corinth and in the wider church.
He begins with instructions for the "collection for the Lord's people" (1). This was extremely important to Paul (cf. 2 Cor. 8 and 9) as an indication that the Christian family crossed ethnic divides, particularly that between Jew and Gentile, and as a sign of unity between them (Eph. 2:14). Paul provides instructions for giving (2), and two things are worthy of note: Sunday has already become a special focus for the Christians, and Paul does not specify an amount (i.e., 10 percent); rather, the gift is to be in relation to their income. Paul instructs that "each" should give, with the implication that those earning more should give more as a percentage of their income. What lessons do those of us living in more affluent societies need to learn here? It might not be comfortable, but according to Paul's instructions, are we giving enough?
Paul then gives details of his plans for travel (5-9), where it is clear that, for Paul, quantity and quality of time matter, because training in discipleship takes both. These verses also remind us that the church faces, and will always face, both great opportunities and great opposition (9). We then see Paul's pastoral heart as he lists his concerns and his thanks for various individuals who have shared in his ministry. For whom do you have concerns? Who has refreshed your spirit (18)? Let's pray for, and give thanks for, these people.
Whose spirit can you refresh? Write a note (or e-mail) of encouragement or appreciation.
Father God, it is an immense privilege to belong to the Body of Christ. I thank You for the love and support I have experienced on my faith journey.
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