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First Corinthians Sidebar: Why Not Rather Be Wronged?

January 15, 2008

A recurring theme in 1 Corinthians is that Christians should be willing to give up their rights for the benefit of another brother or sister. Each one should be concerned about the needs of others. Paul himself was a prime example of this virtue. Following is a brief survey of these passages:

1Co 4:10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!

1Co 6:7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?

1Co 8:9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

1Co 8:13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

1Co 9:4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink?
1Co 9:5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas[1]?
1Co 9:6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?

1Co 9:12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

1Co 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

1Co 12:26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

1Co 14:4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
1Co 14:5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.

1Co 14:19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

In chapter 10, Paul summarizes this principle:

1Co 10:23 “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.
1Co 10:24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

How much better would we all be if we could live by that principle!

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