1Co 4:11-13 “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.”
Many of the Corinthian brethren thought they were on top of the world. After all, God had sent them some notable apostles and teachers (Paul, Apollos, and Peter). Some of them even remembered that it was to Jesus they owed their allegiance. They considered themselves wise, honorable, and strong among their peers.
It seems that they, like us, forgot some of the very basic teachings of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus teaches us that those who would persecute Him will also persecute us (Joh 15:20). The world is still full of men who persecute Jesus from the standpoint that they reject His teaching that man’s nature is sinful. Men still today persecute Him by declaring His way outdated and not really necessary.
Those of us who believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life find ourselves today outside the favor of men. We are accused of bigotry, racism, and a whole list of ills that are not part of the life of the true believer in Jesus. Finding ourselves no longer in social favor, we complain and murmur as though something unexpected has occurred. The people who have kept Jesus’ sayings still hear us (just as they heard Him), and those who would persecute Jesus persecute us. Our Lord has told us this is so.
Paul was affirming to the church in his day that this was true then, as it is now. While there were those who made a pretense of serving Jesus and lived a life of worldly ease and unconcern, those they claimed as their heroes of faith were living a very different life. The Corinthian brethren considered themselves to reign as kings while the ministers of God were daily suffering abuse.
Paul and the other true ministers of his day found themselves often hungry and thirsty as the travelled by any means necessary to bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were often poorly dressed and found themselves without reliable shelter from the weather and the night. They willing worked with their own hands to the point of exhaustion to provide for themselves, to relieve the church, and to be faithful servants of God.
They lived the example of Jesus’ teaching. When they were slandered and mocked, they prayed for those who treated them in such a manner (Mat 5:44). They endured persecution and invited their persecutors to hear the teaching of Jesus. They were made willing to be treated like the filth of the world, good only for being brushed aside and walked on, that they might teach Jesus.
There was no extreme that these men felt was too much to be asked of them. Yet, we complain if we have to get out of the car and to the door of the meeting house in the rain or the cold. Men laugh at our “outdated” beliefs and we have our feelings hurt by that rejection, never stopping to consider that it is not us but Jesus who they are not hearing. We indeed bear light affliction compared to the ministers in Paul’s day and many around the world today who are determined to worship the True and Living God.
May God grant us the grace, strength, and love to demonstrate life lived according to the power and purpose of God and to never be ashamed of those who live such a life!