The Cross: The Point Where Those Who Are Divided Come Together (Fri. August 13)

The word of the day is “division.”  Our world seems hopelessly divided.  Many delight in division and profit from polarization.  Even the church is divided.  Ecclesial denominations maintain and promote the distinctions between Christians. In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 11:8-22, St. Paul gets to the rotten core of the problems in the congregation at Corinth.  The members of the church are divided in mind, behavior, and worship. Their separation from each other is most apparent at the time when they ought to be united. They are separated from each other when they ought to be sharing together in the one Heavenly Bread and one Cup of the Body and Blood of Christ.  In response to reports of the divisions Paul expresses…

Discernment: The Key to Applying Paul’s Ethical Principles to Specific Situations (Thurs. August 12)

The word for today is “edify.”  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7, Paul outlines even more ethical principles on the question of whether believers should eat the meat of pagan sacrifices.  Just before our reading, he writes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Cor. 10:23).  And in today’s passage, the apostle writes, “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or the church of God (OSB vs. 32). But how do we decide what is “edifying,” that is, what builds up the faith and love of others and what tears it down?  And how can we to determine…

Discernment: The Key to Applying Paul’s Ethical Principles to Specific Situations (Thurs. August 11)

The word for today is “edify.”  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7, Paul outlines even more ethical principles on the question of whether believers should eat the meat of pagan sacrifices.  Just before our reading, he writes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Cor. 10:23).  And in today’s passage, the apostle writes, “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or the church of God (OSB vs. 32). But how do we decide what is “edifying,” that is, what builds up the faith and love of others and what tears it down?  And how can we to determine…

Sharing in the Cup of the Lord or the Cup of Demons (Wed. August 11)

The word of the day is “partake.”  What does our partaking of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ mean for our participation in other ways of sharing in spiritual things?  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 10:12-22, St. Paul returns to the topic of eating food offered to idols.  He states emphatically, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.”  You cannot partake of the Lords’ table and the table of demons (vs. 21).  In today’s reading, Paul teaches that because of the temptation of idolatry, one should not eat meat that has been sacrificed on pagan altars.  We will find that this principle also applies to us and our participation in rituals, activities,…

The Past Events of Scripture Provide Instruction for the Present (Tues. August 10)

The word of the day is “type.”  Sometimes temptation surprises us with a sudden and unexpected assault.  At other times, temptation comes upon us so gradually that we hardly notice it at first.  In the beginning, the enticement to sin carries us along gently as a hint of desire.  But then that passion propels us along more swiftly until we find ourselves in the raging currents of craving. In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 10:5-12, Paul warns the Corinthians against the complacency of spiritual pride.  They should be watchful lest they get carried away in grievous sins such as lust, idolatry, sexual morality, or complaint against the Almighty.  He writes, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest…

How to Serve the Lord with God Pleasing Motivation (Mon. August 9)

The word of the day is “motive.”  Our motivations are hidden from others and even ourselves.  But God knows the secrets of the soul.  Thus, St. Maximos the Confessor says that the “Logos” (Jesus Christ who is the Word Incarnate) judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart, that is, the invisible underlying disposition and the motives hidden in the soul” (St.-Maximos-the-Confessor 1981, Kindle Loc 13302). Today in our reading of 1 Corinthians 9:13-18, Paul defends himself against the false accusation that he is proclaiming the gospel for monetary reasons.  He answers, “What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in…

The Shared Virtue of Being Like-minded (Sun. August 8)

The word of the day is “like-minded.”  The Roman playwright Terence (+159 BC) observed, “There are as many opinions as there are people: each has his own view” (Terence c. 160 BC). That observation holds for our time just as it did for the first century before Christ.  However, in today’s reading of Romans 15:1-17, Paul writes, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another” (OSB vs. 5).  Today we will consider what it means to be of one mind with our fellow believers. In today’s reading of Romans 15:1-7, St. Paul applies what he has said about respecting the conscience of those who have misgiving about eating food that has been…

To Present Our Bodies as Living Sacrifices (Sat. August 7)

The word of the day is “sacrifice.”  When we desire to grow in the spiritual life, we might be tempted to disregard and even denigrate the body.  We might treat it as the seat of the passions and the source of the corruption of our soul.  However, Paul says that we should “glorify God in your body and your spirit” (OSB 1 Cor. 6:20).  Today we will seek insight into offering our bodies as “living sacrifices” to God as Paul instructs in our reading of Romans 12:1-3. In today’s short passage, we read a fitting summary of our study of 1 Corinthians about the moral issues of celibacy, marriage, and foods offered to idols.  All these deal with the conduct…

The Ethics of Regard for Others (Fri. August 6)

The word of the day is “eating.”  Our society assumes that morality is a personal matter.  Thus, each person has the right and duty to follow their conscience.  However, in today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 7:35-8:7, Paul teaches the principle that believers should consider the conscience of their fellow members in matters of ethics.  Regarding the issue of eating meat that had been offered to idols, Paul notes, “.… for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience being weak, is defiled” (OSB vs. 7).  For the sake of these brothers and sisters, Paul directs that the Corinthians who have no scruples about eating such meat should refrain…

How to Read Scripture in Its Spirit and Its Historical Context (Thurs. August 5)

The word of the day is “opinion.”  Scripture is inspired and timeless.  Yet, it is written in human terms, at specific times, and in particular places.  Thus, the form of the message shapes its meaning.  Today we find that Paul distinguished between the inspiration of the Spirit and his personal opinion in response to the social context of his day. In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 7:24-35 we find that Paul is struggling to answer the questions that the Corinthians have asked about some practical matters of the Christian life.  Paul has already addressed questions of marital relationships (1 Corinthians 7:2-23).  Now in today’s reading, he addresses the question of the relative merits of celibacy and marriage.  In reading these…