August 30

Today's Bible Reading
            I Samuel 23
            I Corinthians 4
            Ezekiel 2
            Psalms 38
“Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may 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.” (I Corinthians 4:6)
            Sarcasm is not always smiled upon in our culture, yet some of the great literature is considered sarcasm. You may be surprised to learn that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to use sarcasm in his writings. Probably the best example of this is in I Corinthians 6 and following. Some of the saints in the church of Corinth had become very arrogant, and very puffed up in their attitudes; in fact, the term “puffed up” is used four times to describe this group of saints. (I Corinthians 4:6, 4:18, 4:19, 5:2)
            Paul wanted them to know that their puffed up attitude was doing great damage to the cause of Christ, and to the witness of their church. As you read these verses following our memory verse, don't miss the sarcasm of these verses. Paul says, “you think you are authoritative, you think you are in a place of kingship and control, but look at the condition you are in! You are all talk and intellect. Your religion is just theory without reality. The Kingdom of God, Paul declares, is not in word but in power, the one thing you haven't got.”
            The whole trouble with them was - and I don't use a modem phrase, but the words Paul used -''you are just puffed up gas bags." Even in a time when open fornication was being practiced and accepted by members of the church in Corinth, this group remained ''puffed up." What an incredible situation existed in that church. They were so proud of what they thought they had, so sophisticated, and yet in the one important thing, they were destitute. They lacked Holy Spirit, power, and authority.
            Now don't be too quick to judge this group who thought highly of themselves in the church at Corinth. Take a look at your own life in the spiritual mirror of the Word of God. Could it be that you are puffed up? Could it be that you think of yourself more highly than you ought to think? Could it be that you believe that you are more spiritual than others in the Family of God? The truth is, the only difference between the best of us in the Kingdom of God, and the worst of them who are earth dwellers, is the grace of God. We are, indeed, sinners saved by grace, but we are also saints because of the grace of God. We are somebody but it is not in any way because of anything we have done. It is only because of what He has done in us and through us.
            In verse one of I Corinthians 4, Paul makes it very clear who we are in Christ, and how we are to feel about ourselves. The word translated ''servant or minister'' here literally means ''an under-rower' '. He pictures the great ships of Paul's time which were manned by galley slaves, two rows of men under the lash of the overseer, and those in the lower deck were the most despised of all. They were the ''under-rowers'', and Paul affirms he is no more than that. It is the same word the Lord Jesus used when He said to Pilate, ''If My Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants (under-rowers) fight." It occurs again when Paul and Barnabas set out on their missionary journey and took Mark with them as their ''under-rower”. (Acts 13:5)
            So we who know the Lord Jesus are to consider ourselves as under-rowers lest we become puffed up thinking of ourselves more highly than we should.
            Pray for the response of the U.S. to world missions. Today, in our nation, we have 10,000 Christian bookstores, 1500+ Christian magazines, and more than 1,000 full-time Christian radio stations broadcasting 24 hours a day. On the mission field, however, there are 5,000 languages still without a single portion of the Bible, languages in dialects, 85% of all Bibles printed are for the 9% who read English. Eighty percent of the world has never owned a Bible, while in the U.S., there is an average of four Bibles per household. Most believers in America spend more for dog food than they do on Christian missions. Pray that there will be a spiritual awakening in our country for the heart of God, which is missions.