In writing to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul shares his perception that their fervor for God is waning. Some of their ambition is shifting, moving off-center, and their focus is not clear, so he sends them a letter of strong correction.
“Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! … We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children” (1 Corinthians 4:8, 10-14).
Scholars tell us that the Corinthian church was probably the wealthiest of all the New Testament churches. Their location afforded them many opportunities for great wealth from the shipping industry. Paul was pointing out to them that they seemed to be too much like the society around them; while they had all these great things going for them, something was missing. Even with all their outward success, inside something was wrong.
What was going on in this church? Paul was not admonishing them for being prosperous or implying that being impoverished was somehow superior. No! He was pointing out that their focus was all wrong. They were trying to fulfill their hearts’ desires with the things of this world rather than pursuing God first. In other words, they were looking for love in all the wrong places. And because of this, their lives lacked impact for his kingdom. Likewise, today, we must be careful not to become distracted by pursuits that take us away from a clear vision of Jesus!