1 Corinthians 4 v 1 - 5

I may be unique in my thoughts here or you may well relate to them, but I find verses like these in the opening chapter of Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth quite scary! I have met one or two people in my life who have been absolutely what you see and hear is what that person is, but generally once childhood has gone, a series of masks inevitably cover the real person hiding beneath. I confess to being one of the vast majority who have layers and layers, ways of negotiating the world without too much hurt to oneself. I trust God completely, I think, but it is still a little concerning that someone would know everything about me, not only my actions but my thoughts as well! What I hold onto is firstly, that God loves me in a greater way than anyone I have ever known and secondly: He is on our side. As Paul exclaims elsewhere: ''If God is for us, then who can stand against us?'' Thirdly, it is encouraging that we know about Paul's life. He always recognised that he had fallen well short of God's holy standards and even called himself, 'the chief of sinners'. I can imagine standing alongside Paul and many millions of others before the judgement throne of God and being assailed not by the wrath of God, but through His saving work, His love and joy. As the great hymnwriter put it: 'No condemnation now I dread!' A few more points from this passage: no believer is greater than any other-Paul and Apollos were servants of Christ, just as we are; the more we turn our eyes upon Jesus, the less we worry what other people think of us; we are never called to judge! When I hear stories of one Christian telling another Christian-and in church too-that they are going to hell, I want to weep. That is not our prerogative and only shows up our superficiality and condemns us! The men were going to stone the woman caught in adultery, but Jesus chose to set her free.

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