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Not in the Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10.13-16

1 Corinthians 11 (3)

Pray Psalm 115.1-3.
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.

Sing Psalm 115.1-3.
(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
Not to us, O God, not us, but unto Your Name give glory!
For Your love and faithfulness, ever to Your Name be glory!
Why should the nations cry, “Where is their God on high?”
You rule us, LORD, on high: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Read 1 Corinthians 11.1-16; meditate on verses 13-16.

1. What did Paul see in “nature”?

2. What did he say the churches do not have?

Here, Paul appealed to “nature”—that is, in this case, what we typically find in human society. Look around, he says. Isn’t it the case that the “natural” covering for a woman’s head is long hair? And that for a man it isn’t (vv. 13, 14)?

That must have been so in Paul’s time, but he did not cite this example except to provide some rationale for his argument about women and head coverings in worship. God did not command women to have long hair and men short. That’s just the way it was in those days, just as women covering their heads in worship was a tradition as well. They honored God by doing so (v. 15). We shouldn’t go around seeking to undermine long-standing and widely-recognized traditions that do not contradict the Word of God. Like throwing out hymns and replacing them with “praise songs”. Or tossing long-standing liturgies and turning worship into a mini-concert or a TED talk.

But we mustn’t get all heated up about such things. Believers argue about the most inconsequential things sometimes, even to the point of becoming angry, pointing fingers, denouncing, and breaking friends. This is not a tradition we should endorse, wrote Paul (v. 16). Churches should be places of unity, peace, mutual love and edification, not of contentiousness. We’re free to discuss and disagree, but not to become contentious. We want the world to see that we can disagree in love and still encourage one another in the fellowship of Jesus.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses…and the LORD heard it…then He said… ‘My servant Moses…is faithful…Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?’ So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them…suddenly Miriam became leprous…” (Num. 12.1, 2, 6, 7, 8).

God does not like it when we are contentious against our brothers and sisters in Christ. Miriam, although eventually healed, got the point that God was not pleased with her behavior. And God has not changed His opinion about squabbling Christians (Heb. 13.8).

Paul wrote to Timothy regarding his hopes and dreams for men’s and women’s comportment in church and life in general: “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works” (1 Tim. 2.8-10).

Was Paul taking up the role of fashion director for the church? No, but what he was doing was suggesting that praying men and modest women are a blessing. Styles come and go, but prayer and modesty are relatively self-explanatory. We should be able to conjure up in our minds what that means and looks like. It isn’t rocket science.

Peter gives a nice summary: “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5.5-7).

True fellowship in Christ is only possible when we set ourselves aside, are not contentious with God or others, and seek to please Him only, through our attitudes, our love, and our godly intentionality about everything we eat, drink, wear, and do (1 Cor. 10.31).

It is only through Jesus that this goal is attainable: “I AM the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15.5). But with Him “nothing will be impossible” (Lk. 1.37). Even the details of God-honoring hair and clothing.

For reflection
1. How might you know when you were beginning to become contentious with another believer? What should you do then?

2. How does agreeing to disagree on certain matters both preserve our focus on the fellowship of Jesus and bear witness to the watching world?

3. Whom will you seek to edify in the Lord today?

For we must not always reckon as contentious the man who does not acquiesce in our decisions, or who ventures to contradict us; but when temper and obstinacy show themselves, let us then say with Paul, that contentions are at variance with the custom of the Church. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11.16

Pray Psalm 115.9-18.
Call on the Lord to bless and guide you today and to increase your opportunities to be an agent of His grace to the people around you.

Sing Psalm 115.9-18.
(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
All who trust in Jesus yield—ever to His Name be glory—
find in Him their help and shield: Ever to Your Name be glory!
O Israel, trust the LORD! He helps us evermore!
Fear Him obey His Word: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Blessings from our gracious LORD—ever to Your Name be glory—
will attend us evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless all who fear You, LORD, all who obey Your Word,
all who Your Name adore: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Grant us, Savior, great increase—ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless us with eternal peace: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Heaven and earth are Yours; let every soul adore
and bless You evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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