This devotional is about 1 Corinthians 11.
In the early days of the church, God’s people observed the Lord’s Supper as part of a larger common meal. In their society, Sunday was a work day, so the church’s worship meeting typically happened in the evening after the work day was over. The meal and Lord’s Supper were elements of the church’s weekly gathering.
The Corinthians, however, were not thoughtful in how they observed the Lord’s Supper. For many of them, it was a party that centered on their own private feasting rather than a family activity for all the people of God. They ate when they wanted and as much as they wanted to eat without regard for anyone else. You can see this in verse 21 which refers to “your own private suppers” and tells us that “one person remains hungry and another gets drunk.”
There were members of the Corinthian church who were slaves (see 1 Cor 7:21). As slaves, they had to finish their work and prepare meals for their masters as well as clean up after those meals before they could come to the church’s meeting. When they arrived, the wealthier members of the Corinthian church had already eaten everything, so these Christian slaves not only missed dinner but they missed the church family’s observance of the Lord’s Supper. That was abusive to the poorer members of the Corinthian church as we see in verse 22b which says, “Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing?”
Paul’s instructions in this chapter are designed to get the Corinthians to think reverently about the Lord’s Supper and to warn them to stop abusing others through their selfish indulgence. The proper way to observe the Lord’s Supper is that “you should all eat together” (v. 33). This ordnance gives every church an opportunity to both remember Jesus and to share something in common with everyone else in a church’s family.
Although we do not observe the Lord’s Supper in the same way that the Corinthians did, we still should examine ourselves (vv. 28-29) before we come to the Lord’s table. Part of this examination should be considering how we’ve treated other people in God’s family who are part of our church’s fellowship. Have we abused or humiliated, even unintentionally, others within our local church body? Have we tried to be thoughtful in how we’ve treated each other? Is there tension or unconfessed sin between you and another brother or sister in Christ?
The Lord’s Supper gives us a regular opportunity to check our spiritual health and to address relationship problems among us. Use the Lord’s Supper, then, to address problems and straighten out your walk with God.