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I Corinthians: What Do We Have To Boast About?

From the Desk of Eric Anderson

1 Corinthians 1:10-31           

If you have ever participated in team or individual competition, you are probably familiar with verbal taunting, also known as trash-talking. Somehow it’s intended to gain an advantage in the argument or competition. Members of the church in Corinth were doing something similar – they were dividing into camps and claiming benefits of following specific church leaders. This resulted in boasting, and caused divisions and other issues of unity. Much of the letter Paul wrote to this church deals with various sources of conflict. In chapter 1, Paul has much to say about why trash-talking of this sort is unhelpful and inconsistent with God’s plan for the church.

Identifying with leaders and famous personalities is nothing new. Some of the reasons for unhealthy “personality cults” include ethnic pride, the hope of special power and wisdom from various leaders, and religious and spiritual pride within the body of Christ. Even the seemingly spiritual claim that “I follow Christ” is a boast in the context of chapter 1, likely because the underlying claim is “I follow Christ, and you do not.”

Paul quickly directs our attention to the foot of the cross. The foolishness of God, described as superior to the wisdom of man, is manifested in the message of the gospel. How “foolish” it is that God would choose to send His own Son to die for our sin on the cross! And how foolish it is that we would instead depend on our own strength and wisdom to attempt to gain favor with God. The foot of the cross is the low, level ground we all find ourselves on. The wise person embraces the folly of the gospel, and stops depending on worthless earthly wisdom associated with knowing the ways of God.

And yet, God has such incredible promises for His children – for those who have trusted Christ for salvation. While none of us have anything to boast about (v.29), God graciously redeems us, sanctifies us, declares us righteous, and imparts His wisdom to those who have trusted Him (v. 30).

And Paul concludes this section with a powerful statement: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord (v. 31). We boast in the Lord when we testify to His work in our lives. We boast in the Lord when we boldly share the gospel. And we boast in the Lord when we are good examples of not trusting in our own strength and wisdom, while at the same time demonstrating the strength and wisdom that comes from Him!

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