by Keith Krell

This content is part of a series.

Tough and Tender (12 of 36)
Series: Saints Gone Wild
Keith Krell
1 Corinthians 4:6-21

Do you remember the last time you were spanked? It was probably more years ago than you care to recall, but try. Perhaps you were discovered in a lie, or caught stealing candy from a neighborhood drugstore, or sent home from school for fighting. Whatever the reason, you found yourself face-to-face with an angry parent whose look of disappointment or rage let you know that your behavior was unacceptable. Still pleading for amnesty, you turned your back-or, more likely, were firmly turned until your backside was in a vulnerable position-and winced as you felt the sting of the first stroke. Other swats followed, until your bottom throbbed like it had just been attacked by a swarm of bees. But you know, despite your anger and excuses, that your mother or father had done the right thing.

If you're a Christian you realize that correction doesn't stop with your earthly parents. Your heavenly Father disciplines you so that you can "share in His holiness" (Heb 12:10b). But unlike your parents-who may have punished you wrongly at times-the Lord always chastens you for the right reason, in the right way, at the right time, and to the right degree (Heb 12:10-11). He never makes mistakes. And He disciplines you to show His love for you (Heb 12:6).

In 1 Cor 4:6-21, God is going to lovingly spank our spiritual bottoms through the pen of the apostle Paul. Paul lives by the principle spare the rod; spoil the church. In the passage that follows Paul will unpack two challenging truths about spiritual maturity.

1. Spiritual maturity requires humility and suffering (4:6-13). In this section, Paul explains that for the Corinthians to make spiritual headway they must learn to humble themselves before God and others. Additionally, they must prepare themselves to suffer like the apostles. In 4:6, Paul writes, "Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apol ...

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