Millions of dollars are poured into the cosmetic industry each year for creams, concealers, and serums. Each promises to remove the appearance of our lines, wrinkles, and of course, puffy eyes. Perhaps it’s a futile attempt to reduce our eye puffiness, physically, but spiritually when my eyes are puffy, it’s a detriment to my soul.
In I Corinthians 4 and 5, Paul admonished the Christians because they were “puffed up” (NKJV). It comes from a single Greek word that is used almost exclusively in First Corinthians, and it carries the idea of being inflated like a balloon or puffer fish. Pride can blind our eyes like nothing else. When our views in life become tainted with pride, our spiritual eyes become puffed up. How do I know when this is the case?
When my view of others is biased (I Cor. 4:6). The Christians in Corinth were dividing themselves against one another, elevating some over the other, seemingly, because of who baptized them (cf. I Cor. 1:10-17). I can be just as guilty of holding some of my brothers and sisters in higher esteem than the Lord intended. What if I choose the church activities or ministries to be involved with, not based on the merits of the work, but based on who will be attending? When I want to participate only if my friends or someone I deem important will be there, I’m elevating my desire for comfort or social fulfillment over great opportunities to serve in the kingdom.
When my view of instruction is diminished (I Cor. 4:15-18). It is no crime for us to have favorite preachers and teachers. They become important because they share in struggles and provide God’s counsel as men and women of integrity. Maybe they were present for an important event in our life or they were the ones who first taught us the gospel. Still, I can become puffed up when I diminish true godly instruction that comes from someone else. When a young man gets up to give his first devotional, do I tune him out because I know it will be basic? When the preacher is out of town and someone less experienced fills the pulpit, do I find myself mentally critiquing instead of focusing on the message? Whenever the truth is taught, regardless of how eloquently, there is something for me to be reminded of or to learn!
When my view of sin is softened (I Cor. 5:1-2). Paul admonished the Corinthians for their lack of mourning over sin in the congregation. When our response to sin becomes casual we become puffed up! Sin can be swept under the rug with an “Oops, better not do that again!” It can be softened with a “Well, that’s not as bad as ______.” Sin can even become a spectacle with comments like “I can’t believe she did that, I wonder how much further she’ll go.” James tells us to “lament and mourn, and weep”; to turn our “joy into gloom” over sin (James 4:9). When we fail to grieve over sin, it can continue to defile, divide, and ultimately destroy the church (I Cor. 3:17).
[Tweet “Love allows me to see my brothers and sisters equally, as fellow servants.”]
A few chapters later, Paul gives us the solution for our puffiness. Agape love, that sacrificial, humility-filled love, is not puffed up (I Cor. 13:4)! Love allows me to see my brothers and sisters equally, as fellow servants, working alongside one another for the good of the kingdom. Love gives me that humble understanding of just how little I know and how much more instruction I need. Love for the purity of the church, love for lost souls, and love for the unity of the church help me to put sin in its proper place: far away from a Christian. When I find my spiritual eyes getting puffy, reread I Corinthians 13, and reach for love. It’s the ultimate concealer!
by Kathryn Baker
Kathryn is married to Andy Baker who preaches for the Maud church of Christ in Maud, TX. She stays at home with their 3 children. In her spare time, she enjoys food (both cooking and eating!), gardening, and taking their Boston terrier for walks.