May 28, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. Therefore, 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. And the rest I will set in order when I come.”—1 Corinthians 11:27–34 (NKJV)
I’m always amazed by Paul’s immense patience towards the Corinthians. They seem to be slow learners. Making big fumbles in their walk of faith, the Corinthians are no different than the rest of humanity. Sometimes it takes us a while to “get it.” I’m so grateful we serve a gracious and merciful Savior that provides us with correction.
Corrections and warnings are the result of great love. We warn our own children not to run into a busy street to avoid getting hit by oncoming traffic. It’s our love that compels the warning. And if our kids don’t obey our guidance, we supply correction and consequences to deter them from repeating the same potentially deadly mistake. Please God may we never allow Your warning bells to ring dull in our ears. Help us stand to attention and listen. The passage is clear, God’s judgment will be upon us if we come to His table in an “unworthy manner.”
The Corinthians have been issued yet another warning: examine and judge yourself. They were getting drunk on the communion wine, they’re forming cliques based on social status, and they were behaving like gluttons, leaving no food for their poor brothers and sisters. Like I said big fumbles. This is the “unworthy manner” Paul’s referring to.
Did you just experience a big sigh of relief thinking, I would never behave this way during communion. Good, let’s hope not. However, we’re not out of the woods just yet. We learn from The Sermon on the Mount that God looks beyond our outer behavior into the inner condition of our hearts. For example, in Matthew 5:27–30, Jesus addresses the lustful and sinful intent of the heart, even if the act of adultery is never committed.
We have to ask ourselves what other kinds of things would be considered an “unworthy manner?” Have we ever taken communion on auto-pilot, not being fully engaged in heart and mind over the tremendous sacrifice Christ made for us? Or have we taken communion when we’ve refused to obey the Lord in something He’s consistently corrected us on? There’s a loving warning to examine the inner condition of our hearts before we take the bread and cup.
Time at the Lord’s table is not only an act of obedience, but an act of worship. Communion is a reminder of our great hope. It’s a memorial to the One our soul loves, a proclamation of His great salvation. Taking communion is where we unite with other believers to celebrate our joint redemption and our future resurrection.
Pause: Do you approach your time in communion with great reverence? Based on what you read, have you ever taken communion just going through the motions, where your heart and mind were not fully engaged in worship?
Practice: Sit today and reflect on what communion truly means, what Jesus did for you, and what He has done in your life since you received Him.
Pray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties” (Psalms 139:23 NKJV). Lord, You know my heart better than I do. If I have ever taken Your sacrifice for my sins lightly, I am deeply sorry. Please forgive me. Your victory on the cross has purchased me eternal life. Time spent with You fills me with peace and hope. Please allow my heart and mind to be pure before You. Praise and glory to You, King Jesus. Amen.
Deb Marsalisi is an author, public speaker, mentor and Fire Inspector. She began her writing journey to make peace with her challenging past. It has provided her with an outlet for creative self-expression, and a healthy new perspective on life.
Through God’s amazing grace, she has learned to rejoice in life’s ups and downs, struggles and victories understanding they’ve been given so she can help and inspire others on their own journey of restoration. Her passion is to support others in emotional and spiritual habits that are truly life-changing. She spends her free time loving, encouraging and mentoring young women to grow in their relationship with Jesus. And she also enjoys cooking amazing meals for her friends and family.