Gardendale Nazarene

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Living for the Benefit of Others | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Living for the Benefit of Others

I shared with the church a couple weeks ago about a journey I have been on in my faith. This journey has led me to a deeper exploration of Paul’s theology of the cross. Our current sermon series, “Cross-Shaped Faith,” reflects what God has been doing in my life during this journey.

In the first sermon of the series, I used an example from 1 Corinthians 13. Most refer to this chapter as the ‘love chapter.’ Paul makes a statement in the fifth verse that is often overlooked- “[Love] does not insist on its own way.” I pointed out in this sermon that Paul is referencing statements he made in earlier chapters (8-10) on meat offered to idols. If we translate this verse considering the statements on meat from chapter 10, the verse reads, “Love does not insist on its own __________.”

What do I mean by this? The issue Paul was addressing was meat offered to idols. He was saying to them, “If eating meat that was originally offered in idol worship causes someone to turn to idol worship, then don‘t consume that meat.” To put this into our world, Paul would say to us, “If you are doing something that is leading people away from Christ, then you must stop- even if you have the right to do it.”

Look at how Paul states this in Chapter 8, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble,” (vs. 13).

Paul’s new ethic of the cross is love expressed in concern for others and the building up of others. We usually look to our own freedom and rights, but Paul is bringing us to a new way of living under the cross. This new way of living points us away from self and toward others. This new orientation is not just seen in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. Next week, we will look at similar arguments he makes towards the end of Romans.

Let me wrap up this week with this- the cross is always and essentially the embodiment of love. If we have experienced this kind of love poured out by the Holy Spirit into our hearts, then we must join with Paul in putting others before ourselves. It is the way of the cross. It is the way of Christ.

“Lord, what is it in my life that is leading people away from You instead of towards You? May Your love be poured into my heart. Holy Spirit, bring me a renewed love for those whom You have placed in my life. May I continually point them to my Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.”