by Christopher Harbin

Motive and Manner
Christopher B. Harbin
1st Corinthians 11:17-22

We are all familiar with seeing people do the right things with the wrong motives. We have watched others do what is right and recognized those actions be at odds with their character. We have questioned their motives. We assess how they do what they do. We look for a reason behind their actions. When we are honest, we find room for questioning our own motives behind some of the things we ourselves have done. Deep down we understand that it is not enough to do the right things. We must also do them the right way and for the right reasons.

We look around at our legal, political, and economic structures and can readily point to actions which are completely legal, yet are morally and ethically wrong. Our television shows are full of examples of individuals using good laws for nefarious reasons. We can readily see how legality and justice do not always walk hand in hand. Unfortunately, we may find that even within our own lives as believers that we become caught up in some of the same kinds of distortions of what is right and wrong.

Such was Paul's assessment of the believers in Corinth. Here in chapter 11, we find a text so often quoted in our services at communion time. We hear Paul's words to a church that was abusing the Christian celebration of Jesus as the new Passover, but we perhaps miss the fact that Paul is addressing abuses in the manner and motives behind their celebration. Why do we gather to celebrate, and do our gatherings reflect lives truly surrendered to Christ Jesus?

The issues at Corinth were deeply immersed in social conflict. As we have been walking through First Corinthians, we have seen all manner of excuses for factions within the body of believers. It was in their gathering to observe this celebration at the Lord's table, however, that the factions and divisions seem to have been taken to new heights. They were officially gathering together to celebr ...

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