It has become clear, over the course of these two letters, that the Corinthians talk a lot of trash. Yes, Paul addresses issues of sexual immorality, drunkenness and selfishness, but the main problem we find in this letter is that a lot of people have slandered since Paul left. He spends a lot of time reminding them of the facts. What really went down? Do you remember?
In this final chapter, I see Paul pleading for a better way, moving forward.
“Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (1)
“Finally, brothers, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (11)
I am reminded of the ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16) This usually gets boiled down to “Don’t Lie” (for time’s sake?), but I believe it’s best understood unedited.
As the LORD set up His society of people, He was also setting up a judicial system. Now, not everything in life ends up in court, but imagine with me, the daily courtroom of our social lives. We hear a juicy bit of information and pass it on. Perhaps this isn’t malicious. Other times, we get mad and exaggerate a person’s wrong-doing. Still other times, straight up slander happens. In court, this wouldn’t fly. You need witnesses, you need statements sworn under oath. Hearsay gets you no where.
The rumors buzzing around the Corinthian church caused a lot of strife among them and with Paul. The last chapters of this book are drenched in sarcasm, because things have gotten ridiculous. Paul is pleading, “PLEASE get your facts straight! Don’t listen to something with no evidence! Don’t pass on a tale without evidence.”
America is swimming in “fake news” (other countries too, don’t worry?). What can we do to move towards unity? We can believe the best in each other. Don’t blindly believe someone you know to be extremely biased. Don’t pass on information that is void of credible witnesses. We can rejoice together over the good things. Don’t let negativity steal all your attention!
In my heart, I feel the LORD leaning in when He gave Moses the ninth commandment to say, “Life is broken enough as it is. You’re going to hurt one another. Please don’t make it worse by spreading stories that your neighbor is worse than he is.”
Tomorrow we start the minor prophets!