Nothing to be proud of: 1 Corinthians 5.1–13 (30 August 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, open my ears to hear what you have to say to me; open my heart to love your word, and open my mind to understand your truth.

Reflect

Daily reflection: 1 Corinthians 5

Corinth had a reputation as a particularly immoral place, but by Paul's time this was largely historical and it would have been no worse than any other port city. It seems (verse 1) that a man had married or was sleeping with his stepmother, a practice forbidden in Leviticus 18.8 and regarded as incestuous. Paul's concern is that this man's unchallenged sin compromised the integrity of the whole church. This isn't to say churches ought to be harsh and exclusively for 'good' people; in Galatians 6.1 Paul says those caught in 'any kind of wrongdoing' should be set right 'in a gentle way'. But there are limits: we cannot judge 'outsiders' who live by their own rules, but we can certainly judge our own people (verses 12–13).

There's a huge potential for spiritual abuse here, and there have been many sad examples of this happening as churches have acted unlovingly and self-righteously. But that doesn't mean we can just glide over what Paul says. We might want to talk of God's unconditional love and of churches as being welcoming and open to all. There's nothing wrong with this, but it's not the whole story. Churches are also places where we support each other in doing the right thing. But if we're to do this, it's a huge responsibility. Some sins, like sexual sins, are easy to confront; others, like judgementalism or bullying, much less so.

Living as a Christian can be hard. Living as a Christian community can be even harder, as Paul's churches found out.

Pray

Pray

God, forgive me if I've been harsh and unloving with my Christian brothers and sisters. Help me to know my own heart; and help me to live rightly before you, as I ought.

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