Perjantai 16.11.2018
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Jotka kyynelin kylvävät, ne riemuiten korjaavat. Jotka itkien menevät kylvämään vakkaansa kantaen, ne riemuiten palaavat kotiin lyhteet sylissään. Ps. 126:5-6

The greatest is charity

in English 11.5.2015 14:42 | Siionin Lähetyslehti
“Anew commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35).
Difficulties in Corinth

The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian congregation about 20 years after Jesus’ farewell sermon. The city of Corinth was located on a narrow isthmus, which had good connections around the Mediterranean Sea. The city was a significant market place in ancient times. In addition to its temporal riches, it was also known for its evil.

But there were those in Corinth who accepted the word of Christ, and a congregation was established there. The congregation of Corinth was the largest congregation that Paul established, and also the most difficult. The Corinthian Christian’s struggles were made more difficult by the temptations found in the city and also doctrinal ambiguities and disagreements. They had forgotten what our Lord had asked of His followers in his farewell sermon: love one another.

One sign of the quantity of difficulties in the congregation is that Paul wrote them several letters, of which some are recorded in the first and second books of Corinth. A common theme can be seen in these letters: leading the Corinth congregation through difficulties towards love.

Agape, God’s love

Love is spoken about very much in our time. It was also spoken of a lot in Corinth. In the ancient Greek language, the word love had several different expressions. When talking about romantic love, the word “eros” was used. Friendships were connected with the word “filos” and bonding with the word “storge”. Sometimes even the word “epithymia” is translated into Finn as love, even though the word lust would depict it better.

In the Bible, the previously mentioned kinds of love are rarely spoken of. The Bible’s word for love is “agape”. It is God’s love: unselfish, self-denying, and perfect. That love is depicted in the letter of John: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10). This love was missing in the congregation of Corinth. It had been replaced with indifference.

Gifts for the common edification

The congregation members of Corinth had been given many gifts: knowledge, prophesying, and speaking in tongues. In Corinth, the abilities of “human and angel speech” were especially valued. These can also be called eloquence or trance speech. Some of the congregation members experienced inferiority or uncertainty when lacking these gifts themselves.

Paul encouraged even these congregation members: not everyone has to be equipped with the same gifts. Each congregation member has their own unique gifts. The gifts we have received can be grace gifts when they are used for the glory of God, on the behalf of our loved ones and the edification of the congregation.

Gifts were abundant in Corinth and there was plenty of preaching, but all these would have echoed emptily without love.

In the time of wanting

Paul glorifies love and presents it as “a more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31). At the same time he admits that in this world we are still left wanting. “Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

Due to our old portion, lovelessness and indifference are close to each of us. God’s love is complete, but the work of the Christian is left incomplete. This is why it is important to note still one quality of God’s love. While man’s different types of love focus only on the beautiful, perfect, and useful, God’s love is different.

God loves the sinful, failing and doubting one. In God’s love, man can be a righteous sinner and every day believe all his sins abundantly forgiven. This strength helps the members of Christ’s-body to rejoice and suffer together in this world (1Cor. 12:26).

Text: Tuomas Tölli
Translation: Angela Hänninen
Source: Siionin Lähetyslehti 3/2015

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