1 Corinthians 4:6-7
“. . . that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”
Paul warns of the danger of pride. He refers to it as being puffed up; a term that has withstood the test of time, and is still used today. When we see someone who is filled with pride, we might say they are filled with self, puffed up, or even that they have a big head. Paul reminds us of the folly of elevating ourselves above one another, by exhorting us that what we have, we received from the Lord.
This passage reminds me of the story of Absalom, the son of King David, whose life was marked with pride and whose death was fitting. We are told, in the heat of battle, while fleeing from Joab, he rode under a low hanging tree branch and his head was stuck. Moments later, Joab arrived and slew Absalom. He literally died because his head was too big. Absalom was a man born into privilege. He was the son of the king, raised in the palace, given the best education and upbringing available at the time. His palace life would afford him connections with the most prominent people of the day, and provide him with a life of influence. In addition, the Bible describes him as an extremely good-looking man. He was praised throughout the nation for his looks. No doubt women were wooed by him, and men envious of him. But rather than looking at these as gifts from the Lord, and opportunities to be useful for the kingdom of heaven, Absalom was filled with pride. We are told, he was so in love with himself, that at the end of every year he would get a haircut, weigh his hair and publish the results. Of all the things we take pride in, that has to be one of the most ridiculous.
What have you done to determine the amount of hair that you have? The answer is nothing, it is hereditary. If you are bald or if you have a flowing mane, it is not because of something you accomplished, it is like being proud that you are tall. Paul reminds us, “what do you have that you did not receive? Now, if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” Everything we have is an evidence of the grace of God. Rather than thinking of ourselves as better than another, we should use the gifts, privileges and opportunities we have been given, to serve one another, and to further the kingdom of heaven.
Questions for 1 Corinthians 4
- Paul says that he is a servant of God and a steward of the (previously hidden) truths of God. A steward is a person who manages things that another possesses. In verse 2 we are told the one primary requirement for a servant/steward of God. What is that?
- Read Proverbs 29:25. Paul is not the least bit concerned with any kind of judgment that people would make concerning him. Why is this? (Read verses 3-4) Do you find yourself overly concerned with what people think of you?
- Paul advises us to be careful about making judgments until the Lord’s coming. He tells us three things that will happen at that time. What are they? (verse 5)
- Paul uses an interesting phrase in verse 6, “learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other”. What does this verse mean? What are some ways that people think beyond what is written? How does this cause them to look down on others?
- Paul asks three questions in verse 7, starting with who, what and why. Ask these questions of yourself.
- In verses 8-14 Paul chastises the Corinthians for their pride. He does this by putting into perspective their “talk” with his “walk”. What are some of the things that Paul had gone through that validated his apostleship? (there are at least 10 in these verses)
- Paul tells them that although they have a lot of good teachers, they don’t have many spiritual fathers. What are some of the differences between a teacher and a father?
- What does Paul tell them in verse 16? Look up 1Cor 11:1. Can you say this as well?
- Paul sums up this chapter in verse 20. Walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Examining your own life, do you pay Jesus lip service only, or do you pay Him life service?