THINK: No church is perfect. Most have issues of some sort, and the Corinthian church was no exception. They had cliques, contentions and misunderstandings of how to use their God-given gifts to serve Him and enrich one another. Still, God was working through them, having gifted them with all they needed to serve His purposes (see 1:7 note). Perhaps you feel that your church or group is lacking in some way. But understand that God has placed you exactly where you need to be to learn, grow and stretch your faith. In addition, He's given your group - through its people - all the abilities needed to pursue God's purposes at this time and place. Humbly do your part, while encouraging others and praying that all of you will work together to reach your part of the world for Christ.
RESPOND: What does it mean to be sanctified (i.e., set apart for God's purposes) and "holy"? (See 1:2 note.) How is your life enriched by your relationship with Jesus (v. 5)? What is a "spiritual gift"? (See 1:7 first note.) What does it mean that they were waiting eagerly for the Lord to be revealed? (See 1:7 second note.) What has God called you to do in regard to His Son, Jesus (v. 9), and how will this help you remain strong? (See 1:9 note.) When Paul talked about having no divisions and "being perfectly united in mind and thought," did he mean that Christians should always agree and have the same opinions? Why or why not? Why were the Corinthians quarrelling? (See 11:12 note.) What problems arise when Christians get too attached to leaders and follow people more than Christ? What does it mean that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing," but the power of God to those "who are being saved"? (See 1:18 note.) Why is worldly wisdom like foolishness to God? (See 1:20 note.) What does Paul mean when he refers to "the foolishness of what was preached"? (See 1:21 note.) What do verses 25-29 indicate about how God's values compare to the world's, and why is this an encouragement to many people? (See 1:27 and 1:28 notes.) What does it mean that "Jesus...has become for us wisdom from God"? (See 1:30 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you keep your eyes on Him and never to put loyalties to leaders ahead of Christ.
ACT: If you're struggling with attitudes about your church or individuals in your group, ask God to help you understand and appreciate how all the people have been uniquely put together to build each other up and accomplish His purposes. Consider how you can grow in your faith right where you are, particularly through difficult issues. Make sure that you're not depending on one of your leaders more than Jesus. (See Glossary of terms, beginning on p. 2265 for practical definitions to many terms, such as those used in verse 30.).
THINK: Often, the best known, highest regarded, most sought after ministers are those who demonstrate the sharp- est communication skills and seem to posses the most unique insights. While this may be a result of God's gifting, it doesn't make someone's ministry more worthy, more powerful or more effective in God's view. In fact, ministries that rely on human abilities will yield little or no long-term spiritual fruit. Regardless of peoples' gifts, God wants your attention to be on His message, His power and His purposes, not on how much you enjoy listening to the speaker.
RESPOND: Though Paul's speaking ability was apparently not impressive, why was his preaching powerful and influential? (See 2:1 and 2:4 notes.) In what ways can the Holy Spirit's power work through godly preaching? (See 2:4 note, sub-points 2-4.) Why are those who know and love God able to understand Jesus' message and God's Word when worldly wise people do not (vv. 7-8)? How should verse 9 encourage those who love Jesus? How does God reveal what He has prepared for us (v. 10ff )? (See 2:12 note.) In what ways and for what reasons did the Holy Spirit inspire the writing of Scripture (i.e., God's written Word) and how does He help people understand God's Word? (See 2:13 note.) Why must people have an authentic relationship with God in order to truly comprehend what comes from God (v. 14)? When speaking of Jesus' followers, what does it mean that "we have the mind of Christ"? (See 2:16 note. ) Why is this mind-set vital for Jesus' followers and how does it affect their lives?
PRAY: Pray that you would never depend on human abilities and personalities in doing or receiving ministry, but that you would rely on the Holy Spirit's power, guidance and insight to understand and apply God's Word.
ACT: As you go through the day, practice having "the mind of Christ" (v. 16) in all situations. Try to maintain attitudes you believe Jesus would have. Do for others what you feel Jesus would do and say what you feel He wants you to say. Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you in this way, and be prepared for God to use you to bring encouragement, help and healing to people. If you have time, read the article on Three kinds of People, p. 1624.