1 Corinthians 16
“Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of evert week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
When you see “now concerning” this is an indication that Paul was answering a question from the Corinthians as he did many times in this book. Paul has asked the churches to keep an offering for the poor in Jerusalem. What he is asking of them is to put a little aside every week so that when he comes to them, he can send people of the Corinthians choosing to Jerusalem with the gift.
The next few verses (5-9) tell of Paul’s plans. He is planning to stay in Ephesus for the time being and then he wants to go to Macedonia before coming to Corinth. One thing to note here though is that even though Paul is making his plans on how to minister, he is also very open to the Lord’s leading in his plans. In verse 7 he clearly stated “If the Lord permits”. It is good for us to make plans in life and ministry, however, if we are trying to walk in step with Him, as we should be we also must realize that many times the Lord has a different plan for us than we have for ourselves. I can promise you 10 years ago, I would have never dreamed I would be living in small town Mississippi in a house overlooking a lake with a small community around me. When I look at the plans we had and what actually happened I see that the plans the Lord had for me were totally different than the plans I had for myself! It’s quite exciting and interesting when you look back to see how God may be directing your steps.
Paul also gives the Corinthians instructions before he closes his letter on Timothy. He knew the Corinthians to have trouble with authority and it appears that Timothy was planning to visit Corinth on his way to see Paul so Paul asked the Corinthians in verses 10-11 to treat Timothy with respect.
It is Paul’s desire to end his letter with some final instructions for the Corinthians. He begins verse 12 letting them know that he has urged Apollos to visit them but that Apollos is ministering and traveling of his own free will as well.
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
This is Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians. He has given them a lot of instructions in this letter but he is breaking it down into one sentence right here. What he is telling them is good for us too. “Be watchful,” watch out for yourselves and what you are allowing in your midst, “stand firm in the faith” make sure you stand on the truth you have been taught. “act like men” he had told them earlier in this letter (chapter 3) that they were acting like infants or children that they had not grown up in their faith. In this statement I think he is telling them that he knows they have it in them. “Be strong” they need to stand in the strength that they receive from their faith. And then “let all that you do be done in love”. It all comes down to that. If we treat each other with love then we still may not agree with everything but we will at least respect each other.
The last few verses of this letter are greetings from people they knew back to the Corinthians. Paul had had a scribe writing the letter but apparently he took the pen and wrote the last greeting of this letter to the Corinthians.
“I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Corinthians 16:21-24)
Again, Paul is putting the emphasis on love and he leaves the Corinthians with the blessing of his love. Paul has not just had touching feel good words for the Corinthians. He has told them some very hard truths at times. Yet we can all learn a lesson here by the way Paul deals with them in love. We must first strive to love the Lord and then we must ask the Lord for the grace to love others as he does.
Oh sweet Lord, I pray that we will be able to stand firm in our faith, that we will be women and men who are strong and Lord that we will deal with others in love for them. And Lord when we are dealing with those that we may not find so lovable, I pray that you would help us to find the grace to love them as you do.
Please pray for the educators, the teachers and the students today.