1 Corinthians 16

Read 1 Corinthians 16 today.

This chapter brought this letter to the Corinthians to a conclusion. Tucked within these final thoughts, Paul said some things about Timothy (vv. 10-11) and the family of Stephanas (vv. 15-18) that are worthy of our consideration.

Regarding Timothy Paul wrote, “No one, then, should treat him with contempt” (v. 11) The reason? “…he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am” (v. 10b). Regarding the Stephanas family, Paul commanded the church “to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it” (v. 16). The reason they should submit is “they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people.”

We know that the Corinthian church played favorites among the Lord’s servants because Paul addressed that favoritism in chapters 1-2. This kind of partisanship extended to other servants of the Lord. Given what we know about Timothy from the New Testament, can you imaging treating him “with contempt” (v. 11)?

Yet that seemed to be a real potential threat for the crazy Corinthians.

Likewise, the family of Stephanas devoted themselves to serving God’s people but Paul was concerned that the Corinthians might not submit to them.

Unfortunately, the Corinthians were not the only Christians to mistreat servants of the Lord that they viewed as “junior league” or “less than” Paul and Apollos. Some church people won’t accept ministry or instruction from the elders of their church or from staff members; they want to hear from the senior pastor only.

This passage addresses that kind of attitude. All of us elders are servants of Christ and should be treated that way.

If you decide to try another church because your pastor isn’t preaching on a particular Sunday, is that not treating God’s servant “with contempt”?

If your elder contacts you and you don’t return the call or an email, is that an appropriate way to treat the Lord’s servant?

If you think an elder or his wife is too direct when dealing with people or too gentle or too… whatever… aren’t you doing exactly what Paul told the Corinthians not to do to Stephanas and Timothy?

Verse 18b says, “Such men deserve recognition.”

As the Senior Pastor here at Calvary, I get more praise than I deserve and my brothers who also serve as elders do not get enough. If you’re a member here at Calvary, you’ve been assigned an elder. How well do you treat him? How well do you respond to his attempts to serve you?

How can you show him and his family some love and appreciation now?

Matthew 8

Read Matthew 8.

Here in the first half of Matthew 8 we have several stories about Jesus healing people. Each of these stories serves a purpose, but the one that always gets me thinking is the story of the centurion’s servant in verses 5-13. 

The first thing that stands out about this story is the man’s humility. A centurion is a Roman soldier who is in charge of 100 other Roman soldiers. That is a very powerful man. He was certainly feared and, probably, deeply respected by everyone who met him or knew him. Of all the people Jesus was willing to visit at home, he was by far the most prestigious.

Despite all of that, the centurion didn’t want Jesus to come to his home because, he said, “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof” (v. 8). He sized up Jesus and had great respect and maybe even some fear of him.

The next impressive thing about this centurion is his faith. That’s what impressed Jesus (v. 10). Consider why Jesus said that he had the greatest faith: Not only does the Centurion believe that Jesus can heal his servant, but he believes that Jesus can do it remotely “But just say the word, and my servant will be healed” he told Jesus in verse 8.

What’s even more interesting, to me, is the centurion’s reason for believing that Jesus can heal remotely. He told us that reason in verse 9: “For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

That’s it! That was all he said!

So what was his point?

His point was that he understood where Jesus ranked in the spiritual hierarchy.

A centurion does not accomplish things by showing up anywhere there is an issue. No, a centurion gets things done through the soldiers that report to him. If he wants something done, a centurion DOESN’T do it himself; he orders one of his soldiers to do it. That’s the only efficient and effective way to lead 100 people.

What the Centurion was implying was that Jesus was so powerful and so high-ranking spiritually that he can issue orders and stuff will get done.

Did the centurion think that angels would do it? Who knows and it doesn’t matter. What he knew is that Christ can accomplish anything he wants merely by issuing orders. He didn’t even need to know the servant’s name, or his GPS coordinates, or anything. He has the power just to speak and it will happen.

Jesus found his faith amazing. “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” he said in verse 10.

What was so great about his faith?

In order for Jesus to heal someone remotely without knowing who the person is or where he resides, Jesus must be God. He must know all things to know who the sick servant is and where he is. He must have God’s authority to be able to accomplish things by issuing commands. Since all creation is under his authority, Jesus can use his authority to accomplish anything he wants.

What amazed Jesus was the centurion’s recognition of who Jesus was and the centurion’s faith in Jesus, not that he believed Jesus could heal. Tons of people believed Jesus could heal, but they were so focused on getting better that the missed what his healing power revealed about Jesus. 

Christ remarked on the implications of this in verses 11-12. This Gentile had greater faith than any of Christ’s other followers. He had greater faith than any of the 12 apostles. He had greater faith than Jesus’ closest friends, Peter, James, and John.

To Christ, he was an example of what was to come. The “many [who] will come from the east and the west” are Gentiles, just like this Roman soldier was. Jesus said that these Gentiles will feast with “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (verse 11).

But many Jewish people who knew Messiah was coming, who were waiting for his kingdom, who saw Christ’s miracles and heard his words “will be thrown outside, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Why? Because they failed to recognize and believe that in that human body named Jesus resided the almighty God.

Have you put your faith in the powerful lordship of Jesus Christ? Do you believe that he can and will do whatever you ask for in faith if it is also God’s will?

Do you ask him in faith to give you what you want and need in his will?