1st Corinthians Chapter 5

At first glance, Paul’s words in 1st Corinthians 5 seem harsh, judgmental, and unloving. More so, they seem ineffective. Let’s reflect on what is going on.

The Situation:
Someone in the church of Corinth is pursuing a way of life that is opposite of God’s intention. In particular, the person is involved in an illicit affair with his father’s wife! We don’t know if this is his birth mother, or if his father has another or a new wife. What we do know, is that even the people in the community who were not walking with God found his behavior disgusting. More so, the man refused to stop the affair and everyone in the church knew about it.

Paul’s Solution:
The person’s hard-heart approach and refusal to leave a bad situation left Paul with no seeming other way than to tell the church to remove the person from their gatherings. Paul actually told them to have nothing to do with the man: don’t hang out together; don’t’ eat together; don’t do business with each other—nothing!

Our Trouble:
I don’t know a single Jesus follower who doesn’t still struggle with sin. Could you imagine if everyone who struggled with sinful tendencies was dealt with in the way Paul suggested to the Corinthians? Churches would be empty—at first glance. Judgement is so harsh. Shouldn’t we be about loving this person back to Christ.

Let’s take a deeper look.

The person in question wasn’t struggling with a tendency or an impulse. The person in question wasn’t experiencing a lapse in judgement, thus making a really bad decision. This person has set their heart against Christ. Their pursuit refused to hear God’s love over them. Quite simply, this person wanted nothing to do with the will or way of God, so much so, that Jesus’ reputation among those who didn’t believe, was hampered and the work of the Gospel was hindered!

It’s All About Love:
God loves the church. God loves the world. Those statements aren’t incongruent with each other. The person in question was causing people to see God’s love in tainted ways, both those in the church and those who did not associate with faith. God released this person to their own destructive patterns. God released this person to preserve love for others.
If this was a lapse in judgement, as a believer in Jesus, I would welcome correction. Often we defend ourselves and challenge that no one can judge anyone else. Within the family of faith, that simply isn’t true. We are challenged to love each other deep enough to challenge each other toward better ways to live. These challenges aren’t for our hurt, but for our help. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love challenges us to live well.

  • Do you agree or disagree with Paul’s instructions?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where a friend flat out refused to do the right thing?
  • How did you handle that situation?
  • How does correction between believers demonstrate love and grace?

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