READ: 1 Corinthians 16:1-24
THINK: You’ve probably heard the phrase “tough love,” which typically refers to strict discipline placed upon a person by someone who cares deeply for them and hopes to teach them a valuable lesson. In this case, strength and grace go together. But in most instances, people don’t view toughness and tenderness in the same context. In fact, these traits are typically placed on opposite ends of the character spectrum. But for followers of Jesus, strength and sensitivity, courage and compassion are meant to go together. That’s because only those who truly love will have the devotion and determination to tough it out and stay true to God and others when pressured to compromise or abandon these relationships. If you want to be more like Jesus, you will submit to God, develop greater discipline, and gain spiritual strength by growing in godly love.
RESPOND: What is the “collection for God’s people” to which Paul is referring? (See 16:1 note.) Why was this offering necessary and appropriate? What does verse 9 tell you about taking advantage of ministry opportunities, despite apparent opposition? What do verses 10-12 and 15-16 indicate about accepting one faithful minister as well as another? Why do you think that Paul issued the specific challenges and encouragements in verses 13-14? How do things like courage and strength go together with love? To whom does Paul give a strong warning at the conclusion of this letter? (See 16:22 first note.) Why and in what way is it vital to demonstrate authentic love and devotion for Christ? What was the constant desire of the first Christians, and how should this serve as an example to Christ’s followers today? (See 16:22 second note.)
PRAY: Pray for your church leaders, that God would encourage and guide them in their ministry and that He would bless them in their personal life. Also pray for people in your church who are in need materially or financially. Also ask God to help your life–in attitudes, words, actions, and in every way–to always reflect true love for Jesus.
ACT: Set aside some extra money this week that you would have spent on yourself and put it toward a missions project through your church or youth ministry. Perhaps you currently have a ministry opportunity that you’ve hesitated to pursue because of fear, uncertainty or opposition. Trust God’s direction and empowerment and follow up on that opportunity to honor Jesus.