Lest You Be Disqualified
Throughout Paul’s ministry and writings, he continually displays his genuine care for those who are separated from God, Christians, and the Church. The Apostle Paul would often put aside any desire for self-preservation in order to aid those who were in need of hearing the Gospel; this is seen in Paul’s willingness to be set apart from Christ if only his fellow countrymen would believe and follow Christ (Romans 9:3-5). Knowing that this was not a substation that could be made Paul would turn his attention in his writings to teach us how to live so that we would not be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Paul begins by recalling Israel’s history. Israel, like those in Corinth, was a blessed nation. According to Paul they were under the protection and guidance of God (1 Corinthians 10:1), were redeemed from a state of slavery by baptism (1 Corinthians 10:2), and all ate and drank of spiritual food and drink provided by God (1 Corinthians 10:3-4). “But. . .” (1 Corinthians 10:5), because of Israel’s idolatry, fornication, tempting of Christ and discontent (1 Corinthians 10:7-10) this once faithful nation would be “scattered across the wilderness”. Paul begins with this point to illustrate the truth that no amount of blessings from God, no amount of protection or guidance from God will save you if you do not live faithfully in return. This is often missed by those in the secular religious world who cling to the doctrine of “once saved always saved” and it seems as if the Christians in the first century needed to be reminded of this as well.
This writer believes that this message is still one that needs to be heard even today. Paul’s message to his brothers and sisters in Christ was “it is never ok to stop growing”. We cannot fall into the mindset that once we are baptized that’s it, that just because we have read our Bibles once or twice that we are feeding our Spiritual lives. Instead Paul’s recommendation for living a life that would not be disqualified involves five actions that must be worked within each members life. According to 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 we all must “watch” that is give strict attention to God’s word while being cautious of the devil and his devices (1 Thessalonians 5:6,10; 1 Peter 5:8). “Stand fast in the faith” is Paul’s second encouragement to us, knowing that trials and temptations arise we must persevere (Ephesians 6:11-13). And through these times of hardship we must “Be brave”, Paul better than most understood the hardships and the trials that would come about form being faithful to God (2 Corinthians 4:8-11) and his key to success was being brave. Paul’s fourth admonition is to “Be strong” or more accurately to “increase in strength”, this is not accomplished through any humans means but as Paul would say it is accomplished through “Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Finally, Paul would tell us to live our lives with “Love”, a way of living that encompasses every other commandment of God (Galatians 5:14).
Paul understood clearly the need for each individual to continue to grow within their own Christians lives so that they would not be disqualified on that final day of Judgment. This growth has a beginning point when we become a Christian, but this is not the end of our story. Instead we can look at history and those who have come before us and see how they so vividly display for us the need to live a life filled with Spiritual growth.