“Cleanse out the old leaven”
1 Corinthians 5:7
So I’m studying 1 Corinthians chapter 5, and I got to thinking about Matthew chapter 7. Does that ever happen to you?
The passage in question is about the sexual immorality of a member of the Corinthian church, and the fact that it was being condoned, or even celebrated by others in the congregation. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump,” verse 6 says. Be careful, or the sin you disregard in others might be the sin that is soon taking place in your life.
The Matthew 7 passage I thought of, was simply this: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” But I wasn’t thinking of it in terms of the man engaged in sexual immorality, although this guy in the Corinthian church definitely needed to hear Jesus’ words.
No, I was thinking about several years ago and a friend of mine who had an annoying habit. It wasn’t even a sin, mind you, just a trait of hers, which was that she was incredibly slow about responding to emails. We were working together, which meant that I sometimes had questions about how certain things should be done. Sometimes it was days before I would hear from her, and there were times when the question was never answered, and I just had to forge ahead and hope for the best. I don’t think it ever backfired on me, or that I was scolded for doing something wrong. But it was frustrating nonetheless. I thought it was rude, and it resulted in anxiety on my part, and sometimes others too, if there were more than one of us waiting for the response.
Well after awhile, I started to do the same thing to her. I would deliberately hold off on answering her if she emailed me. I think part of me was thinking, “It’s not gonna bother her, because clearly a quick response is not a priority to her. “ But truthfully, part of me was also thinking, “See how you like it!” Or something equally Kindergarten-ish.
I was not treating her the way I wanted to be treated. And worse, I was lowering my standards to match hers; becoming lazy and rude, because I thought she was. And I was doing so vengefully.
We can’t let others’ actions dictate ours. And Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 5 is that we can’t let others’ sins appear to go unnoticed. We have a responsibility to try to gently lead them back to a right walk with God.
And in doing so, we might even stop ourselves from wandering off the path of righteousness.