A Little Yeast Goes a Long Way

3.15.23 Devo Image

“Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”—1 Corinthians 5:6–8 (NIV)

Have you ever made bread, pizza, or cinnamon rolls? One of the key ingredients in most doughs is yeast, which causes a small batch of dough to rise, stretch, and expand. It’s called leavening. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t take a lot of yeast to make this happen. Two 14-inch pizza pies calls for 32 ounces of flour and only ¼ ounce of yeast! Isn’t that wild? All it takes is a teensy pinch of yeast to completely transform your flatbread into a loaf. 

In today’s passage, Paul applies this concept to the Corinthian Church and their attitude. You see, the Church had taken an extremely nonchalant attitude to an egregious sin in their midst. Then, as if in disbelief, Paul exclaims, “And you are proud!” Following this, he tells them, “Your boasting is not good.”

Why were they even boasting? Honestly, there’s no real consensus about their boasting. Some say it’s because the Corinthian believers were “proud and pleased to ignore this man’s notorious sin,” apparently thinking they were showing how loving, tolerant, and accepting they were. Others say it’s not directly related to this man’s sin and is instead about the outward flourishing state of their church, their gifts, their wealth, etc. Regardless, the problem needed to be dealt with. 

There are very few things that can wreak havoc on a church, a group, or an individual believer than pride. Because all forms of pride and boasting that aren’t rooted in Christ and His work (1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 6:14) are misplaced and do nothing but set us up for destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Pride not only perverts the message of the gospel, but it also cuts us off from the power of the gospel. It elevates us, our gifts, and our accomplishments and devalues the grace, power, and work of God in us. When a little seed of boasting spreads, then we end up with something that doesn’t remotely resemble the gospel. And if we’re not careful, we end up deceiving other believers, leading them astray, and misrepresenting the name of Jesus to the watching world, turning them off to faith in Him.  

We can’t let this happen to us! Why? Because yeast cuts us off from the power of the gospel, from experiencing the fullness of His promises and His presence in our lives, and from being effective witnesses. We must instead, as with Passover, actively work to prevent the yeast from dropping into our dough. We must make every effort to live unleavened because we are unleavened. We must not fall for the trap of pride or ignore unrepentant sin in our lives or the lives of other believers for the sake of appearing tolerant and loving. It’s not loving or tolerant to let someone be overtaken by sin. No! We must live with conviction in an age of compromise, we must stand firm on the truth of the gospel and hold ourselves and other believers to this truth in a loving manner, and we must walk in humility and sober-mindedness, not in our own strength, righteousness, or giftings, but in dependence, devotion, and relationship with Him. 

Pause: Why does Paul use the yeast metaphor so often, particularly as it relates to pride, when correcting believers?

Practice: Check your dough. Is there any yeast? Are there areas in your life, in your group, or your church where you’re ignoring unrepentant sin or being puffed up by external things? Are there areas where repentance, surrender, and humility are lacking? Ask the Lord to help you!

Pray: Father, I don’t want to live deceived. I don’t want to think one thing and be completely wrong. I don’t want to be deceived into feeling like I’m fine and clean and clear in an area when I’m actually in rebellion or disobedience or hypocrisy. Help me to be purged of pride, to walk in humility, to live with conviction and yet still have compassion for those who are struggling, and to have boldness to speak into someone’s life if they’re walking in sin. Teach me Your ways and Your heart. Give me Your discernment in these and all things. Amen.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.