Daily Devotion | Day 333
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28, NKJV).
In parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series we discussed the problem at the Lord’s Supper in Corinth as well as its consequences. Today we will look at the solution Paul proposed to end the crisis. Paul’s solution is summed up in our opening Scripture: “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” This solution is to be applied in two ways. First, Paul is calling for a change of thinking regarding how one approaches the Lord’s Supper. Second, he is calling for a change of external behavior with respect to the Lord’s Supper. In what follows, we will discuss the specifics of what Paul is saying.
Thinking affects behavior and behavior affirms thinking. What you think of the Lord’s Supper will shape your attitude toward it. Obviously, the behavior of the Corinthians shows they were not thinking right about the Lord’s Supper. They thought of it as an ordinary meeting, and they behaved accordingly. But those who intend to participate in the Lord’s Supper must examine themselves about the nature and the purpose of this celebration. To help the Corinthians think right, Paul reminded them that the Lord’s Supper is not an ordinary supper. It is a proclamation of the Lord’s death. As he put it, “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (v. 26).
This is what Christians must have in mind when they participate in the Lord’s Supper. When they attend this meeting, they need to keep their thoughts and motives aligned with Christ’s. The last thing they want is to treat the Lord’s death (or the church) with contempt and suffer the consequences. When they examine (judge) themselves, they would behave well at the Lord’s Supper and escape judgment (v. 31). Otherwise, the Lord Himself will intervene and judge and punish (discipline) those who trivialize His Supper. They should be thankful for this form of judgment, because it is the Lord’s way of sparing them something far worse: condemnation along with the world. (v. 32; v. 30; see Revelation 3:19).
The other part of the self-examination involves behavioral change. Paul’s appeal is, “my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment” (v. 33-34). Since the Lord’s Supper was (and still is) a fellowship meal, our attitude at the meal matters. Love is patient, we are told (1 Corinthians 13:4). From what Paul said here, we know that some in the community had neither the patience nor the inclination to wait for their brethren. They therefore went ahead and ate their own supper. This attitude defeated the purpose of the Lord’s Supper.
Patience, after all, is an essential component of love. Being patient is being loving; being impatient is being unloving. And in the absence of love, the Lord’s Supper loses its meaning. When this happens, eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper draws judgment instead of blessing. To avoid this, Paul gave the following practical advice: Wait for the brethren. But if you cannot wait because you are hungry, eat at home before you join the Lord’s Supper. It is better to eat at home than arrive at the Lord’s Supper hungry, angry and impatient.
God willing, we will conclude the Lord’s Supper series tomorrow. Stay patient. Stay loving. Amen.
For further study: Exodus 12:1-28 and Revelation 2:18-23