Although James addresses this letter to the “twelve tribes”, the Holy Spirit included it in the Bible for our benefit as well. We are brothers and sisters of the Christian Jews, James and Jesus Christ. It emphasizes the statement that Jesus made when He said “in this world, you will be offended”. Troubles will come our way, of that we can be sure. There is a reason God allows trials and temptations to come into our lives. God knows our maturity level and what decisions we will make in those trying times. He allows those times so we will know where we are spiritually. Most of the time, if not all the time, we find that we have a long way to go to get to where God wants us to be. When the trials come, do we whine and complain or do we accept the situation realizing that God has put us here so we learn to depend on Him? There is nothing more sobering than when we realize that we have done what Peter did when he said he didn’t know Jesus. Oh, I am sure that we would never verbalize that, but what do our actions tell those around us? Like Paul, we should always realize that we are not there yet, but we should be focused on getting there.
Paul continues his narrative on whether or not we, as Christians, are free to eat meat sacrificed to idols. The point he is making is that when we exercise our liberty in Christ Jesus, we need to be sure that others are not offended or misled by watching us. Though we have the knowledge that we have liberty because Jesus Christ died to set us free from the law and from sin, others do not have that knowledge. They are accustomed to not eating meat sacrificed to idols because that is what the law has taught them. Just as some of the disciples still taught that you had to be circumcised because they did not yet have the understanding of their freedom in Christ. We, being the stronger, should then give up our freedom to do certain things. Not because the action itself is a sin, but because it causes our brother or sister to stumble and we have sinned against them. Any sin against anyone is a sin against Christ. So we should use our knowledge, spoken in love, to edify our brothers and sisters and not to harm them.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Up until the death of Jesus, the people would follow after certain Rabbis, the great teachers of religion in that time. These Rabbis taught the Old Testament laws and rules, as well as those who taught idol worship. Now there was a new plan of salvation instituted with the death and resurrection of Jesus. In a sense, it is understandable that the people, at that time, would have been inclined to follow the teachers and not just their teaching. Paul is telling the Corinthians that they aren’t yet able to understand the message. They must first learn that it is the message that is important and not the messenger. Until they understand this and have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord, he is not able to teach them in more depth. We still have the same thing happening in our society today. We have people who are misled and think that the messenger is the savior, thus we have cults and incidents such as Jim Jones, where people follow their leaders even unto death. Paul was concerned that the people in Corinth would turn back to the law or false religion. He wanted to be able to get them grounded in the faith by teaching them about living a Holy life after being saved, so that they, in turn, could make disciples of others. Today, we have many people who are saved and then become unsatisfied with Christianity because we don’t teach them to live holy lives. They drop out of church because we don’t teach them that living for Jesus is hard, but the joy and the end result is more than worth the effort.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.–1 Cor. 15:57 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. As we study God’s Word and pray each day, our faith should continually grow stronger. God has given each of us a spiritual gift to glorify Him and edify our Christian brothers and sisters. As we use those gifts in His service, it should cause our faith to grow stronger. God does not want us to walk around afraid to speak about all the marvelous things He has done for us. He tells us over and over “Do not fear”, “do not be afraid”, “be courageous”. We can speak out because we have His power and love abiding in us in the form of His Holy Spirit. He gives us strength to endure any situation, He has told us that He would never allow us to be tempted above our ability to resist and that with the temptation, He would always provide a way out.
Some people seem to believe that God allows us to be tempted to prove something to Him. He never allows us to be tempted. He does, however, allow us to be tested by situations. The testing that He allows in our lives is for our benefit. God already knows what our response will be, but the tests allow us to know where we are in our journey with God. If we wallow in self-pity in the testing, our flesh allows the tests to turn into temptations. When we are tested, we have to make a decision to trust God with the outcome or try to fix it ourselves. If we fix it, it is always a temporary fix and we soon find ourselves back in the same old situation. If we allow God to deliver us from our troubles, we will grow in our walk with Him and He can trust us with bigger things. We are His creation and it is His right to allow the tests. The tests are always for our benefit and the outcome makes us stronger. The most fertile ground is in the lowest valley, that is where faith is put to the test. We are His prized possessions and He would never do anything to harm us. A baby will never learn to crawl or walk if we carry it all the time. Thank God that He trusts us enough to allow the tests. The testing God allows is to make us stronger and wiser. As we mature, God is able to use us more effectively in growing His Kingdom here on earth. If we don’t take care of the little things, He cannot trust us with bigger things.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” –
Can you imagine the power that was manifested when Jesus was resurrected from the grave? There must have been tremendous spiritual warfare occurring around that location and that time in history. We have that same power available to us to use for God’s glory today. Our mortal bodies are rotting away, but our Spirits should be getting stronger each day as we allow God to renew them. Paul says the problems we have today are trivial and temporary compared to the glory they will produce. When we endure small problems here, they produce a greater glory that will last an eternity. So, each day we should be focusing on Jesus and looking forward to the things that we cannot see now, but God says when they are manifested in the future, they will last forever. So, when troubles seem many and satan is trying to defeat you at every turn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” We need to learn to walk in that glory and grace and experience that power.
15 We limit our boasting to the work that is ours. We don’t boast about the work other people have done. We hope that your faith will continue to grow. We hope that you will help our work to grow much larger. 16 We want to tell the Good News in the areas beyond your city. We don’t want to boast about work that has already been done in someone else’s area. 17 “Whoever boasts should boast only about the Lord.” 18 What people say about themselves means nothing. What counts is whether the Lord says they have done well.–2 Corinthians 10:15-18 (EtRV)
God has given each of us certain talents that we are to use for our livelihood. These talents are also to be used for Kingdom work here on earth. The workplace is our mission field that God has given to each of us. Our jobs may be temporary, short term or long term, but it is where God has planted us for now. Use your talents to to do the work well. Not everyone is called to be a pastor, missionary, music director, etc., but we are all called to be servants of one another to make the church stronger. Our job is to minister (serve) those that God puts in our path. Our vocational work may give us earthly rewards, but we are to lay up our rewards in heaven. We can do that by loving and serving others.