‘Now some are puffed up’, 1 Cor. 4. 18
Despite the centuries that have now passed since the KJV translation came into existence, it is interesting that many more modern translations have retained ‘puffed up’ in the text of this verse. It is an excellent description of a problem endemic in the Corinthian church - pride and arrogance caused by inflated egos. Whilst it would be easy to condemn the situation at Corinth, we should pause to consider the damage that has been done to Christian testimony in the 21st century by the same issue. The warning given by the apostle later in this Epistle is timely, ‘Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall’, 10. 12.
However, as certain groups in society take ‘Pride’ as their mantra, and we are all encouraged to develop our self-esteem, it is important for us to appreciate the dangers of such a path. In chapter 4 verse 6, Paul reminds his readers of the dangers of following a particular person, in this case Paul or Apollos. Apollos might be the orator who can persuade his audience by his grasp of language and powerful argument, but, says the apostle, what ability he had was given to him by God. Similarly, the apostle’s dramatic conversion and perceived learning should not single him out in any way. Our spiritual gifts are no basis for arrogance.
As we come into chapter 5, we see another issue - immorality. Rather than view this dreadful matter from the divine standpoint and appreciate the damage it was doing to the testimony, the Corinthians were glorying in it, v. 6. To them, it was a symbol of their tolerance and enlightenment. Down through the ages of Christian testimony, different forms of sinful behaviour have become accepted on the same principle - tolerance. Let us learn the lesson that a casual attitude to what the Bible calls sin is a recipe for spiritual shipwreck.
As we grow in our spiritual lives and progress in our study of the scriptures, we should gain a greater understanding of the word and ways of God. That knowledge should inform and shape our behaviour. Nevertheless, our personal liberty does not sanction a disregard for the sensitivities of others. Chapter 8 emphasizes that ‘knowledge puffeth up’, v. 1, but love seeks the spiritual welfare and progress of others - ‘charity edifieth’! It is a principle repeated in chapter 10, ‘all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being’, vv. 23, 24 NKJV, cp. Phil. 2. 3, 4.
In that context, it is good to remind ourselves of what the apostle also says about true biblical love, ‘love does not parade itself, is not puffed up’, 13. 4 NKJV. Indeed, this verse commences a list of seven verbs that indicate how love does not behave. If love is to be a true fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5. 22, we need to exhibit its characteristics, and pride is not one of them!
As we look back over the past year, we would like to thank our readers for their continued support. Looking forward, and seeking to live for God in challenging times, let us all avoid worldly influences and ideas.