Monday, July 28, 2014

A HEALTHY ADDICTION (1 Corinthians Chapter 16)

1 Corinthians 16:15, “They have addicted themselves to the ministry” (KJV).

According to Webster’s Dictionary to be addicted is “to devote or surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively.” There are a lot of different kinds of addictions—alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, video games, etc. Some people are even addicted to shopping. Oniomania is the technical name given to that disorder.

We are prone, by nature, to addictive behaviors. “The desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life” (1 John 2:16) demand satisfaction.  The pleasure experienced in sin is short-lived (Hebrews 11:25), and never fully satisfying.  Sin thereby works to enslave us: “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Jesus died on the cross to set us free from both the penalty and power of sin.  We are, by nature, selfish-sinners, salvation works to free us to worship and serve. 

Paul commended the household of Stephanas. “They have addicted themselves to the ministry,” he said. The term “addicted” translates a Greek term means “to arrange, assign, order.” The thought here is that they had so ordered their lives that ministry came first (Cf. Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:5). The term “ministry” is the Greek, “diakonia,” which speaks of service. It is the same term elsewhere translated “deacon.” The household of Stephanas was addicted to ministry in the sense that they had prioritized their lives such that the service of others came first. They were given to it. Their lives were characterized by it. They were devoted to serving Jesus by serving others.

Jesus was addicted to ministry.  He served—humbly, wholeheartedly, relentlessly.  Any day in the life of Jesus was a day in which He served.  He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, cast out demons, raised the dead, fed the multitudes and did more miracles than it was possible to record (Cf. John 21:25).  His disciples sometimes argued amongst themselves as to who was the greatest (Cf. Luke 22:24).  On one occasion two of His disciples came forward to request that they might sit and His right and His left in His glory (Cf. Mark 10:35-37).  The situation caused some friction amongst the disciples.  Jesus called them all together and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  But it shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be first among you must be your servant.  And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).  The world doesn’t think much of servanthood, but God does.  In His economy greatness is defined in such terms.  Man naturally gravitates to a “looking out for number one,” way of living, but Jesus walked in a revolutionary manner.  By His sacrifice He served in preeminent fashion.  He calls us to lovingly serve others according to His example (Cf. Philippians 2:3-8; Galatians 5:13).

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to “be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer” (1 Corinthians 16:16). Many in the church in Corinth were walking as “mere men” and behaving in selfish and childish ways (Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; 13:11-13). Paul directed them to subject themselves to those who demonstrated a capacity to serve, like those of the household of Stephanas (Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17). The church of our day (in America) is characterized by a selfish brand of Christianity that bears little resemblance to its Biblical counterpart.  Servanthood—as a virtue--has fallen on hard times amongst some who profess Christ. But there are still many who walk in same the manner that Christ has established (Cf. 1 John 2:6)—let’s be careful to look to their example.

Jesus was addicted to serving.  He calls us to follow in His steps.  Serving Jesus by serving others is at the heart of worship (Cf. Hebrews 13:15-16; 2 Corinthians 9:12).  It is a healthy addiction for which no cure is necessary, for it meets with God’s approval.

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