The first 11 verses can really be summed up by love (or lack of it!). Paul is reminding the believers in Corinth that they need to show love to each other.
For a start they are taking each other to court and so are having decisions made by people whose lifestyle they disagree with! Not only that, they are doing this all in front of non-believers and we are called to be God's witnesses here on earth. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8. When people know you are a Christian they watch what you do to see if there is anything worth having.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1.
So by taking all their disputes to public courts the Corinthians were not encouraging others that following Jesus is the way to live. We are called to love everyone as God does which means forgiving people when they wrong us, not seeking our own retribution. What makes Christianity stand out over other religions is love. We have a loving God who pours His love over us. God didn't even spare His own Son, so that we might be restored to relationship with Him. We can't earn God's love. We don't need to strive to attain some impossible standard. We can't! God has freely given us love and shown us grace and mercy and so we need to show this love that we have received to others. It's not about whether we think they deserve it or not (we can't do anything to earn or lose God's love). We just need to love. And when you're really struggling to love someone ask God to show you how He sees them. He will help you with even the most difficult person.
Andy preached a great sermon called ‘Self-control not out of control' which was all about verses 12-20, so I really do recommend you check that out for more study on those verses. But what really struck and challenged me when reading this passage is the last 2 verses (19 & 20): “Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body.” (NLT)
God paid a really high price for us – the highest price possible – His Son. So often we think we can give part of our lives to God. Imagine our lives are like rooms in a house. It's like saying God can come into the living room and the kitchen but he can't go in the bathroom and definitely can't go up in the loft! That's just not how it works. He paid the price for all of you. The ‘whole works' as The Message puts it.
In his book ‘My Dear Child', Colin Urquhart writes: “I didn't purchase part of you with my Son's blood. I purchased the whole of you because I wanted every part of you. So you really are my property, child.”
This has been such a challenge to me. I always knew God wanted all of me. But it's more than that; all of me belongs to Him because He paid the ultimate price to save the whole of me – body, soul and spirit. If God only saved the parts of me that I gave to Him, I'm not sure how much of me would be going to heaven!
Praise God that He isn't like this with us. That He does save us completely and fully.
So today do you need to be more loving or ask for God's help with people you are struggling to love? Or maybe you know there are areas of your life – rooms that you've shut off from God that you need to surrender to Him today.
We have such a gracious God. As you come to Him he will help you with whatever you are struggling with. My prayer is that He will strengthen you and fill you with His peace today as you go to Him honestly and openly with your struggles.