May 6, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

As Christians we are set apart from the world to look different than the world. This should be evident in our ethics, politics, relationships, friendships, time management and many other areas in our lives. In today’s Scripture we see how we should be different from the world in our conflicts and disputes as well. The apostle Paul addressed situations in the Corinthian church where Christians are bringing other Christians to court to handle their differences. Paul calls them out for this. He does not hold back. He brings out sarcasm asking them how they’re supposed to judge the world and angels when they can’t even judge each other in trivial cases (v. 1-3). He points out that this is a horrible testimony to the world and legal system that will judge their cases with an unbiblical worldview (v. 4, 6). He shames them (v. 5a). He even tells them that it would be better to take one for the team in the dispute than to bring it to the world (v. 7). Paul does not hold back in this matter because he knows that the witness of the Gospel is at hand.

So how do we handle grievances and disputes amongst the family of God?

The go to passage for handling disputes amongst the body of Christ is Jesus’ own words in Matthew 18:15-20:

15“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will bebound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” 

This means:

1. Point out the problem (sin) privately. Confront them individually and gently. This shouldn’t be done through a subtweet, a text or through a lawsuit obviously.

2. If the problem (sin) is not repented of, the first person should approach the other with 1-3 other witnesses.  This is not a witch hunt. Make sure that this is not for the purpose of gossip or slander and can best be done with a pastor or leader you both trust.

3. Let the church be aware of the situation, if the person is still in the wrong. This doesn’t have to happen in every situation but this is why it’s important to have mentors and church leaders to help.

4. If the problem (sin) is still going on and the people involved are not repentant then don’t consider them a member of the church. Once again, we do this gently, the goal is not ex-communication but restoration.

You’d be surprised but this actually works. Jesus knew what he was talking about when it came to drama and church problems and I’m pretty sure reality tv and political debates show us that the world’s way is the exact opposite of how we want to resolve conflict.

However, please remember:

There is a time to forgive and forget (overlook the sin/problem).

Matthew 18:21-22:

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. After is the parable of the unforgiving servant

Lastly, let’s remember that although we do see the danger and harm in bringing most church conflicts to the courts, there are cases that even the wisest pastors and church members need to go to law enforcement and the court. For example, a church is stupid and in my opinion sinful if it doesn’t handle a case of abuse or molestation without reporting it to authorities. As shepherds we can help after but we need to be careful to not ignore the authority God gives the state in certain legal matters where we are to obedient of and deserve legal justice for.

  • Do you handle church conflicts in a Biblical way?
  • Is there someone or a situation that you need to address in light of reading today’s jumpstart? If the Spirit is convicting or moving, please don’t ignore Him.

By: Erik Koliser

May 5, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 5

The church at Corinth was not without its problems, and in today’s text we see a specific issue that Paul takes time to address. Of all the sins and transgressions that we could fall into, sexual immorality is mentioned quite often in scripture. Early in the Old Testament, God lays out guidelines for sexuality because it is a gift from Him. Sexual relations form a union between man and woman as profound as the union of the believer with Christ, and we know that God has commanded that it be held only between a husband and wife. It is a powerful tool that God has given us; it acts as the glue that holds marriages together and is the means by which God has chosen to bring our offspring into the world! It is held to such a high standard that immorality in this area of our life is biblical ground for a divorce. The sin of sexual immorality carries weighty consequences.

Paul is tackling the issues directly in this passage, calling on the other believers to even exercise church discipline on this individual. Using the example of a lump of dough, Paul reminds the church that they are called to be holy. Leaven was not yeast like we would think of today, rather, a few small fermented pieces of old dough would be left to leaven the new dough. The church at Corinth needed to be reminded that those old ways needed to be gone completely.

Our sin is a serious thing to God. As believers we have been called to live a different kind of life. Even though Paul instructs the church to “to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,” notice that this discipline is to be balanced with grace: “so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” The purpose of the discipline was not to punish the man for punishment’s sake but to lead him eventually toward salvation. The guidelines and laws that God laid out for His children in scripture have very specific intentions: they are for our good, protection and flourishing, and they are for His glory as we live a life that looks different than the world around us. This distinction was explicit in the Old Testament, it was necessary in the New Testament, and it extends to us today. We are called to be a holy people for God.

Rather than think about the immoral people in our life, my encouragement would be to look inward. God hates sin, and His desire is for us to confess our sins, receive forgiveness from Him, and be holy.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 

1 Peter 1:13-16

By: Alex Boswell

May 4, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 4

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

(Matthew 7:1-5)

Are you a critical person? Do you judge the actions and motivations of others? Do you hold yourself to the same standards by which you judge? All of us are tempted to be judgmental. Sometimes our judgments may even be true but most of the time we find comfort in seeing others fail because we feel like failures. We can find great pride in feeling “better” than the person next to us.

The Corinthians had become a prideful people. They were finding their favorites between Paul and Cephas or Apollos. Some of the Corinthians who were followers of Apollos or Cephas were known to talk disparagingly of Paul, especially of his speaking ability, thinking they were able to judge his spiritual effectiveness (ESV study notes). Can you imagine knowing what you know about Paul now questioning and whether or not he would be effective? Pride always blinds us and causes us to judge based on shallow things. How many times in your life have you passed on a leader in your life because they were not polished and flashy? How many times have you chosen a church because of the excellence of their programs but have no idea about the genuineness of their hearts?

If God judges the heart and not the outer appearance, then shouldn’t we follow our Father’s example? How much time do you spend investing in your outer appearance verses your inward spiritual health? What are some steps you can begin to take this week?

By: Chad Wiles

May 3, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians is a roller-coaster letter. If it is your first time reading it, you might at times think to yourself, “these Corinthian Christians must be awesome.” Then you read a few more sentences… and find out soon enough that they had lots of issues that needed to be dealt with. Paul will prove to be both very loving and disciplinary with them.

A few days ago, Erik posted about the dangers of spiritual mentors turning into spiritual idols. This is just as common today as it was then. Paul addressed this idea in chapter one and again in today’s reading. This was such an important issue that it needed to be mentioned twice. Let’s be cautious about the over-exaltation of spiritual ‘superstars’. Appreciate them for their God-given roles and talents, but don’t turn them into a Baal. They were equipped to disciple you (v. 1-2) in your faith (whether via books, TV, blogs, pulpits, or in person).

Paul was one of the best disciplers in the Bible. He didn’t just feed the Corinthian believers fluffy compliments. He was willing to say hard things when necessary because he believed the Lord had better and more for them. He also knew the tension and balance of the ups and downs in the disciple-making process. They needed a tough, tender leader who could encourage and rebuke. And even in rebuke, he was gracious.

Though the Corinthians were rebellious in many ways, he was still thankful for them (ch. 1), complimentary and affirming of their previous growth (ch. 1-2), and pointed them to their only hope: Jesus Christ (ch. 1-3).

If you are discipling anyone right now in the faith, how are you doing in these areas? Are you thankful for the disciples entrusted to you even when they struggle? Do you affirm and build up those whom you are investing in? Do you always leave them with the hope and power found in Jesus? And are you willing to point out sin and say hard things?

What did you learn from today’s reading? Any discipleship/shepherding thoughts? Any thoughts on church life, discipline, and healthy Christian relationships? Let us know in the comments section.

By: Todd Thomas