As Paul concluded his letter to the Christians in Corinth, the one we call 1 Corinthians, he had a number of last minute concerns to mention to them as well as a number of people to comment on.
He began by talking about the special collection they were taking up to help in famine relief for the Christians in Judea. He was concerned that it would be ready on time. He hoped to visit them after he went through Macedonia and warned them that he might even spend the winter with them.
In the meantime, he would stay in Ephesus until Pentecost (which would be in our month of May) because the door was wide open for effective work and there were many opponents to proclaiming the good news about Jesus.
He then mentioned Timothy and Apollos. When Timothy came, put him at ease and help him on his way. Apollos would be along later. He also rejoiced in a visit from Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus – they refreshed Paul and should be recognized for the good they were doing.
Greetings were sent from the congregations in the Roman province of Asia (modern-day Turkey) and in particular Aquila and Prisca sent greetings along with the Christians that met with them. And Paul signed off the letter in his own hand.
Among all these instructions are two verses that stand out: “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV) and “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed” (1 Corinthians 16:22).
You see, living as a Christian, from beginning to end, is all about love. The word for love used here is agape. This is not the warm fuzzy feelings we have for those we like to be around, but is a word that talks about how we treat each other. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
As you read through the 1 Corinthian letter, you get the impression very quickly that people could not see that they were following Jesus because there was no love, no agape, present. They were divided. They tolerated sin. They took each other to court. Some were still worshiping idols. They competed to see who had the best spiritual gift. And they had even made the Lord’s Supper, the remembrance of Jesus’ death, something divisive when it should have been that which united them. No wonder Paul instructed them to do everything in love – if they did, it would get rid of those other problems.
But what about us? Do we really show love for each other. Can people see that we are following Jesus by the way we treat each other, or do we look like everyone else in the world: suspicious, competing, putting down, no tolerance, and no forgiveness – in other words, no love.
We can say we love each other all we want. We can even sing about the love we have. Put the proof of the pudding is what people see in us day in and day out. Do those around see that we care for the Christians we meet with? Or do they hear us constantly grumbling about them and what goes on? Let’s chose to let love be seen in our lives. “Let all that you do be done in love.”
Readings for next week:
23 May – 2 Corinthians 2-3
24 May – 2 Corinthians 4-5
25 May – 2 Corinthians 6-7
26 May – 2 Corinthians 8
27 May – 2 Corinthians 9-10