The reader is reminded afresh in these few verses that Paul cared nothing about himself or his reputation, but wholly sought God's glory and the growth of His Kingdom. He also had a great heart of love for the Corinthian believers whom he had brought to Christ and nurtured as young converts. He is clearly a worldly wise person, aware that Corinth was a very challenging place to be a Christian. There were so many things to do which superficially looked exciting and were encouraged by the populace and the authorities, but which would lead someone away from God. Paul writes again about his forthcoming visit to Corinth and we can feel his trepidation at what he might find. In some ways, we know that things get better and we have experienced some of the joy Paul felt when the Corinthians responded to his pleas and put their house in order. Paul writes a list of what we may call characteristics of the unchristian church: 1. There is quarrelling- rivalry and competitiveness; 2. Jealousy-a form of emulation of great principles, but which has become mean and twisted; 3. Outbursts of anger- the sort of loss of temper which causes a person to say or do something they later regret; 4. Selfishness-the Greek word Paul uses here describes the sort of work which was done for no other reason than the pay at the end of it, so denotes the person whose only motivation is what he or she can get out of it; 5. Slander-the insults flung out in public; 6. Gossip- if it can't be accomplished publicly, then let's spread the word privately-a very hard thing to defend against; 7. Arrogance-the sense that we have something the church desperately needs and we are going to take great pride in its dissemination; 8. Disorderly behaviour-I've attended one or two church meetings and public meetings elsewhere where the one desire of some of the attendees is to disrupt proceedings. These things were happening in the church at Corinth because, Paul accurately surmises, some there want secretly to go back to their old lives and one great excuse will be if the church collapses! Paul was a great specialist in the human condition and we must ask ourselves that question: 'What is it that we truly want?'
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